can’t sustain labour pool

The 30-year-old PhD student recently applied for a full-time position teaching sociology at the University of Sydney, only to be told the position had been scrapped in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Her two casual teaching jobs will finish at the end of the semester and she is facing a summer without money. […]

“Most of my friends are in the same boat — we’ve all spent loads on postgraduate qualifications and studying and the best that we can hope for is casual academic teaching because there is no money to hire people permanently.” University casuals had seen increased workloads in line with a reluctance to hire extra hands, she said.

“Most of my friends are resigned to be casual workers for the next couple of years, which, considering we are all in our early thirties, is quite scary,” Ms Grewal said.

Something about academic employment, and then architects, and the only connection between the two is that they are primarily bourgeois vocations.

3 replies on “can’t sustain labour pool”

  1. It made me feel cranky at myself when my intial reading of that article was based on the normalisation of the casual/sessional labour scenario; in my head, an “Isn’t that the way it is everywhere?” -type response. More reasons why your career move is for the best. Not sure what else to say about this.

  2. That is what I was thinking.

    ok, I’ll say it: Every single casual should seek other employment for a semester at least. Punish the univeristy policy makers. Make it impossible for universities to run. Then see what happens.

    Of course, that won’t happen, because the situation is something like a prisoner’s paradox. I am not sure why people are satisifed with being prisoners.

    The same pressure would be put on workers in universities as it is put on workers everywhere when they take mass industrial action. Return to work, you’ll be black-banned, you won’t get work, you’ll never have a career.

    Unfortunately the only way I can see any change happening is if they halve the cash bonuses paid out to universities for PhD completion. Fewer aspirational PhDs who think they are going to get a job and are willing to work casual, smaller labour pool. That is one example, there are probably others, but the change has to be structural.

    Everyone should be reading the workerists.

  3. I keep having these fantasies in which the entire pool of casual tutors at an institution organises and commits to not accepting any work in the lead up to the start of first semester. Imagine a university today trying to meet its teaching commitments to students without any casual labour to draw on? It would throw the university into a disarray and could even literally shut the place down.

    I don’t know that black-banning would be an automatic consequence of such action — at least not in the humanities. Most humanities academics are very sympathetic to the plight of casual tutors (even if some are not often willing to risk their good relations with upper-middle management by pressing the issue of casualisation). Casual contracts are usually signed off at Head of School level (and stamped at faculty level), so the consequences of action could only be positive. Outside the humanities, though, I fear the logic of neoliberalism may have taken a much stronger hold…

    I agree, glen, that a big source of the problem is the funding model. The RTS has fucked up universities in so many different ways it couldn’t have had a more devastatingly destructive effect even if it were deliberately designed to do so.

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