Demonstrators’ campaign and representative
In a nutshell
Demonstrators support undergraduate teaching – but have no contract, no cap on their responsibilities in practice, and no regular pay rise. As the Guardian recently reported, research has found that Queen Mary has one of the highest rates of casualised staff in the country. Add your voice to our petition calling on Queen Mary to address the problems facing Demonstrators now!
Who are Demonstrators?
Demonstrators are people working for £12.58 per hour. (In some departments, they are known as ‘Teaching Assistants’.) If you work as a demonstrator, you can join the union and become part of a local campaign supporting your rights and working conditions.
What are the problems?
- No job profile or contract
The lack of a job profile means that there are no limits on what demonstrators can be asked to do. They should be helping to implement activities clearly defined by teaching staff, such as showing undergraduates how to do experiments. In practice, they are often asked to take on greater responsibilities that should be paid at a higher level, such as marking coursework essays.
- No regular pay rises
Demonstrators’ pay is not linked to that of other staff and they do not receive the same annual rise. This means that their pay was completely frozen for several years and has fallen substantially in real terms.
- No paid preparation time
Almost all work requires some preparation time, for example to attend a briefing meeting by the course convenor or to set up experiments. This must be recognised.
Who is negatively affected?
- Demonstrators are the lowest paid people involved in delivering courses. These precarious conditions make life more difficult and stressful.
- Students may suffer if the quality of teaching is affected. They might be taught by people who are not being properly paid for their level of responsibility or preparation time, and who have not been fully trained for higher level responsibilities.
- Staff often struggle to find enough people willing to work on these terms, which makes delivering their courses more difficult.
- Queen Mary prides itself on being a London Living Wage employer but is putting its reputation at risk. If Demonstrators have to do unpaid preparation, they may effectively not be paid the London Living Wage.
What are the solutions?
- Queen Mary must agree a job profile with the unions.
- Demonstrators should be assimilated onto the pay spine so that they get fairly paid and benefit from the same pay rises as other staff.
- Contracts should pay for any required preparation time.
These changes must be agreed urgently so that departments can prepare to implement them from September 2017. Sign our petition for action now!
QMUCU has a dedicated Demonstrators Rep, as part of our wider anti-casualisation campaign. Contact the Demonstrators’ Rep if you want to get involved.