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Decent work for a decent education

Precarious work is bad for education, unfair to teachers and students, and must be better regulated. This is the message sent by the 2,000 delegates at the 7th World Congress of the Education International (EI) global union federation, who voted in favor of a resolution co-sponsored by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT).

Like other EI members, CAUT opposes the worrisome trend of universities and colleges using  and exploiting an increasing number of teachers, researchers and support staff by employing them on limited-term, temporary or casual contracts.

The rise in precarious work in the academic world is part of a larger phenomenon that today has hit all sectors of the global economy.

“For an academic career to be attractive, universities and colleges  must offer decent salaries, opportunities for promotion, and academic freedom ,” said David Robinson, executive director of CAUT, one of about 400 organizations in EI.

The resolution gives EI’s board of directors the mandate to carry out a study of employment conditions of contract teachers, monitor the use of fixed-term contracts, and highlight the best practices its members use to keep temporary employment in check.

Many countries now face a shortage of qualified teachers, a problem that will only be solved if governments and the international community act decisively to improve the status of teachers and their working conditions, CAUT believes.

“We know the solution,” said CAUT president Robin Vose. “It’s now up to governments to show the political courage to attack the problem. It’s our students‘ future that’s at stake.”

EI’s member organizations also agreed to study ways to organize a public awareness campaign and coordinate actions during World Teachers’ Day (Oct. 5) and the World Day for Decent Work (Oct. 7).