NTEU is having conferences in each State and Territory over the next couple of months for casual academics. Sign up for the conference here. They also have an online survey which I have just filled out and here is the response to one of the questions:
It is almost as if the university thinks that casual academic staff are being done a favour by being ‘given’ employment. This is complete and utter bullshit. The university very well knows that the excess labour of casual staff and the insecurity of their workplace conditions can be used to control the staff and maintain invisible workplace relations. Ideas are not separate from their material conditions of circulation be they books or in the bodies of academics. The insecurity of casual academics directly impacts on the security of knowledge.
The bourgeois middle-class credentials of academics is put on display not through cultural performances of class, but through the dire material conditions of their younger ‘colleagues’. No one is going to die (except mental health issues and suicides) and I eat and pay my rent, but I survive because I am fueled purely by the burning contempt I have for those who clearly do know better.
Indeed, the only good thing about this state of affairs is that such workplace conditions are having the effect of producing a generation of extremely angry young academics who have the determination to survive. Every single one of my academic friends is concerned about this, even those who are ‘lucky’ enough to be on ‘full time’ three year post-doc contracts. How stupid are universities and managerial staff if they don’t think an entire generation of militant academics is going to come back and bite them where it hurts?