“I voted to reject the deal. While it offers minimal improvements – a slight pay rise and the potential for UDs to become permanent – it leaves too much to later implementation by local negotiators, which is where the union is currently the weakest. Moreover, by failing to provide a framework for all casual staff members, it risks making the overall situation worse.
I am less concerned about unions being barred from local negotiations because collective bargaining is not only a gain for unions, it is also positive for employers. It centralises labour conditions (and therefore 'levels the playing field’ between competing employers), limits militancy and organisation at the base, and allows managers to plan over the long term.
My hope overall is that rejecting the deal throws a spanner in the works and forces the question of organising docenten and casual members of staff on the union’s table - now rather than at some point in the future. I hope it forces the unions’ leaderships to think seriously about what their plan of action is to organise casual staff members, take action, and improve the balance of forces in the sector before the next round of negotiations.
Finally, I am not in favour of Turkeys voting for Christmas - and we are the Turkeys. Not only are we ignored in the CAO and told to go back to local negotiations and court cases (which, in any case, we are already doing, so it isn’t clear what this brings to the table) but, worse, the fact that we are ignored while UDs are, in theory, being made permanent gives a direct incentive to employers to lower UD numbers and increase docenten numbers. This will further limit the changes of early career academics to get paid research time”.