Hard history of casual academic employment

A survey of historians employed as casual academics includes a question about positive experiences, ““there are no positives to exploitation,” one replied

Romain Fathi and Lyndon Megarrity surveyed 153 historians employed as casual academics at 32 universities and four colleges for the Australian Historical Association.They report people find satisfaction in teaching and use casual employment to get their foot in the departmental door but overall, the negatives are numerous.

Insecurity: summers without paid work, last-minute jobs and its hard to chart a career path

Conditions: “The vast majority of casual staff are unable to access sick leave, annual leave or university parental leave; there are no guarantees of further employment; and no institutional acknowledgement that the casual staff member has career plans that might need guidance or nurturing”

“Invisible” work, unpaid hours: “in order to maintain high standards, many casual staff spend unpaid time conducting necessary academic tasks.”

Ignored or undervalued: “With institutional attention and policy firmly focused on permanent staff, there is little social or cultural recognition of the skills and long-term experiences of casual employees.”

Stress: “In the age of casualisation, keeping alive your dream of being an historian involves juggling many balls in the air  … while maintaining a heavy casual workload, as well as constantly living with a sense of insecurity and precariousness..”

They propose 11 measures to make less miserable casuals’ lot, including;

* more permanent part-time jobs

* pay for all work done

* research hours

* permanent staff and institutions acknowledge casuals’ commitment, experience and knowledge


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