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Thursday 21st
posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain

Nearly half struggle to pay bills, survey reveals

UNIVERSITY and college lecturers are being hammered by zero-hours contracts with two-fifths admitting they cannot afford to pay basic bills, new findings reveal today.

A survey of more than 2,500 college and university staff shows that almost half — 42 per cent — struggle to pay household bills.

More than one-third — 35 per cent — reported difficulties in meeting rent or mortgage commitments, and one in five couldn’t even be sure of putting food on the table.

The survey was carried out by the University and College Union (UCU) and its finding are published today in a report entitled Making Ends Meet: The Human Cost of Casualisation in Education.

Almost one-third of staff in further education are on zero-hours contracts, says the report.

Other problems facing academics include difficulties in obtaining mortgages because of their unreliable incomes, to the extent that some simply give up applying.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “People on exploitative contracts such as the controversial zero-hours are unable to plan their lives month by month or even week by week.

“One in 10 people cannot even estimate how many hours they work on average each month or what they might earn.

That is no way for anyone to live their life.

“Ministers and employers must stop trying to defend these practices as flexible. Any flexibility is not a two-way street and people who want security and a proper contract should be able to get one.

“The high levels of casualisation in further and higher education would shock many students and parents and expose the harsh reality of life in modern universities and colleges.”

One college lecturer told the survey: “The main issue is that flexibility only goes one way.

“With those contracts, you end up working long hours for a couple of months, then nothing, then back to crazy hours.

“If you get sick or need days off, you’re really stuck. Ultimately, even if you earn enough, you cannot really plan anything for the future, as you mainly think about securing your next job.”

Another said: “My employer wants it all ways. They expect me to be available when they want, but there is no commitment on their part.”