How to help the vast uni workforces that managements under-count

The NTEU wants universities to report the number of people they employ and give causals continuing jobs

A select committee of the Senate is inquiring into job security (no the inquiry into unlawful underpayment of workers (CCM March 10)) and the National Tertiary Education Union submits that two-thirds of university employees do not have continuing employment.

The NTEU gave evidence to the committee yesterday, as did representatives of the Casualised, Unemployed, and Precarious University Workers group.

“Universities have largely concealed the true nature of their workforce composition through vague reporting, and usage of outdated Full Time Equivalent measures,” the NTEU argues

They’re not wrong Narelle.

Tom Smith and James Guthrie (Macquarie U) analysed a bunch of sources to conclude there are nearly 100 000 casual employees at Australian public universities accounting for up to 68 per cent of people working at them (CMM January 27).

“Publicly funded institutions should publicly report full employment statistics, including head counts of staff by employment type and gender at regular intervals,” the NTEU submits to the committee.

“Universities should also acknowledge that casual staff are not that, they do work which is needed on an ongoing basis. Casual employment is used primarily to deny people the rights that come with continuing employment, to create a compliant workforce, and to cut costs.”

So what is to be done? “Industrial reforms are needed that will address the sector’s approach to insecure work, particularly in relation to casual and fixed term work. Casual employment should be limited to work which is genuinely casual in nature, and employees should not be employed on a fixed term basis for years on end, or where there is an ongoing need for the work they do,” the NTEU proposes.