If you’ve been a postgrad at the University of York for a while you’ll probably remember that the GSA supported the UCU strikes this year to throw our support behind the Four Fights but in particular the fight against casualisation. We felt that we couldn’t be a postgraduate students union without supporting our postgrads in this area. Those of you following the updates from the University will have seen that they’ve committed to putting GTAs on proper contracts in the next academic year.
A lot has happened in the months since that announcement so for this blog post we’ve teamed up with UCU to provide the most up-to-date information for GTAs, including contracts, contingency planning, networks and health and safety. Even if you’re not part of UCU we’d recommend reading the whole post and in case it persuades you into joining UCU a reminder that it’s free!
UCU Info for GTAs, and a quick survey
Some news from UCU for postgrads who teach at York. From Rose Rickford, York UCU exec member and a GTA.
Information about returning to campus
From talking to lots of GTAs from across the University, I’ve learned that many of us are feeling a bit out of touch and not sure what’s going on, either in regard to what (if any) teaching we will be doing, and what the arrangements will be for keeping everyone safe when delivering teaching.
Here’s some info that you might find helpful to know:
- The University has conducted an overall COVID-19 risk assessment which includes a specification that all departments must communicate effectively and constantly with GTAs in regard to the return to campus and delivery of face to face teaching. It is important to ensure that you are receiving the information that is being sent to other members of teaching staff, which requires being included on the relevant mailing list. If you don’t think you are, the first port of call is your department’s GTA rep (on Board of Studies or similar), and your department’s GTA coordinator. If you are still concerned that you are not receiving important information, get in touch with Jane at the GSA on firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The University has also put in place a process for conducting individual risk assessments for individual members of teaching staff. The form for this is here. To request an individual risk assessment, contact your department’s COVID-19 coordinator. If you are having difficulty getting a risk assessment, contact UCU’s Health and Safety Officer Jonathan Fanning on email@example.com.
- It is your department’s responsibility to provide any necessary PPE that you need for your teaching. This includes face coverings. Your department should inform you about how to access these. If you are having trouble getting the PPE you need, contact your department’s COVID-19 coordinator. If you are still having trouble, contact Rose Rickford at UCU, firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
Survey about pay and conditions
As a result of the Four Fights strike action, the University, in consultation with UCU, is working on a new, annualised contract for GTAs, to improve job security. In order to help understand the current situation for GTAs across the university, it would be enormously helpful if you could complete this very quick survey.
The new contract won’t come into effect until January, and for the Autumn term we will remain on casual work agreements. UCU is pushing for departments to conduct transparent recruitment processes for the whole year’s work, and to provide GTAs with information about what work they will be offered for the whole year.
Link to the survey: https://york.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1RnLZpS3k4eZajX
If you would like to get regular updates from Rose about the contract and other issues UCU are dealing with regarding GTAs, please email her to be added to her news list – email@example.com
We have also set up a Discord forum to allow GTAs to discuss the issues that affect us as workers. All GTAs are welcome to join. To be sent the joining link please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the postgraduate student union, we are not a trade union, so the GSA can’t get involved in the contract negotiations. Nevertheless, the GSA and the Sabbs (students representatives) are regularly involved in most of the conversation surrounding the planning for teaching, research, social activities and everything else during the next academic year. We are dealing and negotiating on a daily basis with University committees and senior management on students rights/experience.
In accordance with our new by-laws we’re looking for a Network Coordinator and a Social Secretary for our GTA Network. The network leads are supported by our Events and Community Coordinator and the rest of the GSA staff, if you want to find out more please email Jane (email@example.com). The network is a social space to bring GTAs together but it can be used in any way that you want it too. If you want to get involved in the network you can join the facebook group here.
GTA Part Time Officer
As part of our review of the GSA Association Council we’ve added in a role for a GTA representative. The role is designed to make sure that we have the voice of GTAs within the GSA and to lead campaigns on issues affecting GTAs. This is an elected role that you’ll be able to nominate yourself for in October when our Council elections begin. In the meantime if you’d like more information you can get in touch with our Representation and Democracy Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org)