Probably you’ve heard: the CAO has been approved by the labour union members. And perhaps you remember that your trust in the union negotiators and university directors has been called upon for their promise of carrying out a study. A study into permanent positions for lecturing staff and its subsequent translation into structural improvements for this category in the next CAO. Isn’t it clear by now that we don’t have the time and luxury to wait?
Given also the slow movement of managerial layers of the university, a group of lecturers has taken action, and has started a new branch of the Casual groups (1). Please meet CasualVU, a collective of lecturers standing up against unnecessarily short contracts and the shifting of tasks towards staff that is not paid accordingly (amongst others).
By going on a grading strike for several weeks, Casual UvA has managed to secure something big: “The UvA wants to offer temporary lecturers a four-year contract. That is what president of the board Geert ten Dam said” (2). Note that this goes far beyond the planned CAO study, and was secured even before the current CAO had been mandated! This shows what organizing can achieve, potentially also at the VU!
In the opinion of CasualVU, as long as lecturers believe that their problems are theirs individually, and don’t know a large pool of others in similar conditions, nothing will change! This lack of sharing across the VU is one of the causes of structural underestimation, docility, and of growing risks of exploitation. This is also where lecturers need each other, beyond the capacity of the labour union: we need to talk! To each other, and to university directors about their aim to recognise and reward (3). Recognise us and reward us!
Expect to hear from us after the summer! But more importantly, you can become part of the change even now by joining CasualVU actively, or by subscribing to the newsletter and sharing the news to those around you. Currently, we are in dire need of people with social media skills and socializing skills: to make ourselves known online, and to go meet other lecturers around you.
Remember: Don’t come to accept what the VU tells you are the limitations. More is there for the taking, as soon as we go and get it together!