Dear UCU – where were the protesting lectuers when casual staff most needed them?

Following my PhD I spent 5 years in unemployment, of which 2 of those years I spent working as a causal, “Associate Lecturer” at the rate of £45 per hour for teaching time (not researching, preparing, admin, reading, holiday, etc.). Associate lecturing involved bending over backwards to support what felt like a middle-class of lecturing staff; people with permanent contracts which afforded them the luxury of pensions, guaranteed incomes, full-time pay, “massage therapy”, and the ability to take strike action when things didn’t go their way.

As an associate lecturer, I was not invited to partake in any of these activities; the UCU never contacted me and I was never invited to strike, protest or take action.

In fact, I felt excluded and much like an outsider.

All the work that contracted members of staff didn’t want to do was dumped on my desk – much like it will be in these strikes for all the other associate lectures who have no option other than to work, grin and bear it. Much like all casual workers are, I was forced to work to get paid to earn and income and pay the bills. There was no to little choice to do anything else.


These permanent, full-time lectures were the ones deciding I wasn’t worth of a full-time job or permanent contract. These staff members were the people reviewing my CV and deciding I wasn’t good enough. These permanent staff members were the people dumping unwanted workloads onto my desk – yet the UCU strike is about “attacks on pay and working conditions as well as pension cuts” but little consideration to those who are forced to teach students – about ‘capitalist exploitation’ – through indsutrial strike aciton, and those will not receive pension payments.

As a casual worker I would feel jealous that permanent lectures were afforded such luxuries and it seems just hypocritical to stand on the picket lines in 2022 knowing that a whole nameless cohort of casual staff members will be forced to pick up the work and seem vastly overlooked by angry middle-class of lecturing staff, more frustruated about their pensions rather than the reality of casualisation.

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