Statute 24 Update

UCU position on latest statute 24 developments:

  1. Job security for permanent staff does not cause casualisation;

  2. Academic freedom without job security is meaningless

Last year, the University announced plans to gut its employment statute, Statute 24, thus putting at risk Warwick staff’s job security and academic freedom. Thanks to the mass-mobilization of UCU members, we have won important victories – Senate chose not to approve the reforms at its meeting last June, meaning that they did not go forward to Council. However, the fight is far from over.

In the most recent volley, the Provost published an update on 18 December 2017 on the University’s intranet.  UCU sets out below its response to the points made by the University.


The University says:

It is hoped that as a consequence of more streamlined employment processes, the University will be able to review its contractual offering for academic staff with a view to reducing dependency on fixed term and casual contracts.

What the University means is:

If we make it easier to dismiss people on permanent contracts, we might be willing able to offer permanent contracts more often.

Once again, the University’s interpretation of fairness is about levelling down rather than levelling up.  By implying that our current statutes are the cause of an increased reliance on casualized contracts, the university presents these developments as inevitable. It therefore fails to acknowledge that the increase in these forms of working is a direct result of choices which have been made by university management, and in the broader context of attacks on publicly-funded higher education teaching and research.

UCU wishes to make clear that the University has made no offer of any concessions on casualization. We therefore view the University’s statement as a lazy and cynical attempt to create divisions within our membership and within the university more widely.

Disciplinary and Redundancy

The University says it wants:

            More streamlined employment processes

What the University means is:

We’ll offer our employees no more than the minimum protections enshrined in employment law.  We want to make it easier and quicker to dismiss members of staff either by redundancy or through disciplinary processes.

The University’s latest statement made no mention of its proposals on disciplinary and redundancy, preferring to concentrate on the issue of academic freedom.  UCU welcomes the fact that the University is at least acknowledging the threats its proposed changes pose to academic freedom seriously, though this should not obscure the fact that UCU has repeatedly advised the University that we cannot agree to the proposed documents for redundancy and disciplinary.

Academic Freedom and Job Security

The University says it:

believes that the proposals will serve to strengthen the protection of academic freedom afforded to academic members of staff

UCU says:

Without proper protection in place against redundancy and disciplinary procedures, assurances about academic freedom are meaningless. Casualization undermines academic freedom as precariously-employed academics feel pressures to avoid controversial areas of research and publish in particular journals and with particular publishers. Without job security, there cannot be academic freedom.

The University says:

a Committee could be established, to determine whether academic freedom had been infringed prior to the instigation of any disciplinary/grievance proceedings. In the case of redundancy proceedings affecting academic members of staff, the Committee would determine at an early stage whether the proposed redundancy pool and criteria represented an infringement of academic freedom.

UCU says:

All cases of academic redundancy involve questions of academic freedom.  We should be free as academics to pursue research into topics which are not currently fashionable.  There are many cases of research generating significant outputs only after many years. Such work would be wiped out at a stroke with the imposition of a short-term audit culture. The consequences of this are all too evident elsewhere in the sector as the situation at Essex demonstrates (sign the petition here:

Issues of performance inevitably involve questions of academic freedom.  Telling academics that they must publish in certain outlets itself transgresses academic freedom.

The UCU calls on the University to ensure academic freedom by providing job security, lessening its reliance on insecure and badly-paid contracts, and treating its casualised workers with respect.

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