The Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff (JNCHES) recently signed a framework agreement that aims to address the growing issue of precarious employment in the higher education sector. The agreement touches on several key issues, such as casualization, gender pay gaps, and workload issues, and represents a significant step forward in ensuring fair and equitable employment conditions for all staff in the higher education sector.
One of the primary goals of the framework agreement is to improve job security for staff in the higher education sector. This is particularly important given the rise of casualization in recent years, which has seen many academic and support staff employed on short-term and insecure contracts. The agreement seeks to address this by improving avenues for career progression, including the provision of permanent contracts for staff who have been employed on a fixed-term basis for an extended period.
The framework agreement also seeks to address the persistent gender pay gap in the higher education sector. According to recent studies, women working in higher education currently earn an average of 15% less than their male colleagues. The agreement includes a commitment to conducting regular gender pay audits and addressing the underlying causes of the pay gap, such as unconscious bias and lack of career progression opportunities for women.
Another key area addressed by the framework agreement is workload issues. Many staff in the higher education sector are currently overworked and underpaid, which has a detrimental effect on their wellbeing and work-life balance. The agreement aims to address this by setting workload targets and providing support for staff who are struggling to meet these targets.
Overall, the JNCHES framework agreement represents an important step forward in addressing the challenges facing staff in the higher education sector. It is an important tool for ensuring fair and equitable employment conditions for all staff, and for promoting the continued success and sustainability of the sector as a whole. By improving job security, addressing the gender pay gap, and tackling workload issues, the agreement provides a solid foundation for a more sustainable and equitable future for all those who work in higher education.