I have refused external PhD examining in UK – and refused to do reviewing submitted papers for journals. I have cut out the circle/UCU from the ‘I’m working to contract’ poster and stuck it on the rear car window. I’ll put the poster in the front window at home. I am refusing to go to meetings whenever possible.—
(email footer reads: We ask University employers to negotiate, not impose, pension changes…)
For many years I have had a gym membership. Plan A has been that I go three times per week, but plan A has often been replaced by staying late at work just to finish off…. Since working to contract plan A is fully in place. If I am going to be poorer then I am going to be fitter.—
Here’s a true story. A few years ago I was wiiting a report one Sunday afternoon (conclusion: I must be mad and sad) that needed to reach colleagues by Monday afternoon. Having finished it, I thought I might as well sent it off to the four recipients. These were all senior academics at my Unversity, but from four different departments..—
Within two hours I had a response from all four of them as they were also working Sunday afternoon (conclusion: we are all mad and sad).
P.S. I am not planning to work this weekend.
I have posted the UCU poster outside my door, taught my First Year students a Dutch Union protest musical work, and have written to colleagues explaining that, on work-to-contract, all incoming and unnecessary meetings are being avoided.—
I find I now have more time to research (which the university whittled down to half a day each week at my Russell Group university), gaining almost an extra day (close to the two days per week we are promised). I feel better about myself, about my profession and about my academic endeavours. This will now benefit both the University and me — but why can’t they see that?
Like many of my colleagues I have ‘sacrificed’ countless week ends and evenings for work since I have taken the academic-track journey. Since I have become a mother (7.5 years ago), I have started to feel almost constantly guilty of either not spending enough time of my evenings and week ends with my son or working. This week, I have worked only ’40 hours’; as a consequence I have spent more time with my son. Such a good feeling. I am a bit breathless though as there is simply too much urgent things to do in a normal full-time week for a lecturer to cope!! And as I care for my students, it is hard to not feel I am letting them down by working to contract… Still, I believe it is important to do so if only to remind ourselves that by working so many hours in a challenging job in which not only intellectual skills, but management, marketing,…, pedagogical skills are required, we deserve to have decent pensions when we finally slow down a bit…—
I’m a head of department, so my working week is taken up with not-extra duties. I thus can’t lead by example, but I have told my colleagues that I am 100% (at a minimum) in support of the action and will do ‘nothing’ to ask them to undertake anything they refuse to do. I have so informed my senior management too.—
My other half’s a lecturer, & I’d like to say thanks for the ‘work to contract’ action! The 48hr week part should be made permanent!— , Twitter
Think about how much overtime your average member works, and how many additional jobs the sector would have to employ if they didn’t?!
I took the opportunity to do something I hope to do more of in my retirement, that is if I’m still able to climb mountains in my late 60’s if the USS get their way… The mountain I’m stood on top of in this photo is called ‘Yoke’, but our dispute is no ‘yoke’ I can tell you!—
Having worked 9 ½ hrs Monday to Friday last week I left work knowing I would not work at the weekend. I took the opportunity to spend Sunday taking photos near Aberdeen. Attached is an example of what can be achieved when one is not working.—
I finished this week’s 36.5 working hours on Th at 7 pm…. So I had a lovely Friday in the company of our 18 months old, and realised how much work we normally do (I just finished a monographs, but till the day I sent in the manuscript I has sacrificed some 3 years of weekends….).—
Tuesday nights are my late working nights (until 11pm) but today I will be going home for 6 pm to join my son in giving my husband a surprise for his birthday.—
I am now sleeping properly at night and not waking at 2am worrying about all the things I haven’t had time to do because I’m too exhausted to think straight and/or feeling guilty that working regularly way beyond my contracted 35 hours and never taking lunch breaks still isn’t enough to get everything done; I’m reading novels on the train home rather than doing more work. I’m getting home at a reasonable time able to take an interest in what my husband and little girl have been doing that day rather than wanting to collapse in a heap or weep. And it makes me realize that – like many of my colleagues – I’m doing the work of two people (at least), not one.—
This is the first weekend in six years I have not worked either (or often both) Saturday and Sunday and well into the evening! Working above and beyond the call of duty resulted in the breakdown of my long-term relationship and severe health implications. Two whole days off has been bliss. I plan to make this a more regular occurrence!—
I too have been trying to keep work to just work hours (although i am running over a little now in order to email you!). I have an eight month old, and had pretty much decided that evening and weekend work was no long tenable. So the work to contract campaign has come just in time, as it does allow me to make this stand and for it not to be seen as doing less just because i have a family.—
This isn’t so easy though, I mean to say it can be quite stressful when you know there is work to be done and there doesn’t seem to be enough time to get it all done. Also the culture of working evening and weekends is so normalised, that i get emails from colleagues late in the evening and weekends. Even though they don’t say they want a quick response, I feel there is a pressure there all the same. Do other people have this guilty feeling, or stress in ‘taking weekends off’??? I would like to hear their stories, and how they are coping/getting over this.
I love leaving work at 5pm and today (whilst on leave) my colleagues contacted me about the University’s finance system. I was delighted to be able to tell them I couldn’t deal with it as I was working to contract. I love not feeling obligated to work longer hours, I think I should have started working to contract some time ago!—
Recently I have coincidentally given up working answering emails etc on Fridays and it’s a great treat to enjoy exercise – quiet down time – this seems almost an unconscious reaction to a lot of years of stress in that It is assumed that we work at weekends and late into the evening.—
Because I worked to contract last week, I spent my weekend visiting my parents – 300 miles away – for the first time since Christmas. For the last three years, my workload has made it impossible to visit them more than once or twice a year. After all the stress at work, it was lovely just to spend time catching up with them.—
It’s really sad to think that it has taken this ‘work to contract’ to make people take the time that is rightfully theirs (myself included), however there are still hundreds or thousands of union and non- union members who are working above and beyond their contractual hours for no reward plus colleagues who aren’t sleeping at nights worrying about all the work stacking up and the extra tasks/workload that they are having to endure to cover for all the people who have been lost either due to natural wastage or voluntary redundancies, there just seems to be fewer and fewer people to do more and more work and now they are trying to make us stay longer and decrease our pensions!—
At least my husband and dog are happy to see me now I’m leaving at my proper allotted time although I’m still finding it hard not to remove myself from work at lunch times although I am turning my phone ringer off for an hour but it’s hard not to be tempted to answer the odd email or two. I’ve also stopped myself from answering work emails on my phone or laptop out of hours which was really difficult at first but disabling the accounts from both devices has helped!
I’m clocking up every hour and looking forward to a long relaxing re-energising 4-day weekend using time off in lieu. I would never have done this without the USS campaign. The work-life imbalance in HE is being highlighted by the campaign. Employers have the upper hand and employees are being exploited. This campaign has raised important issues beyond the campaign itself.—
I took my daughter to a (routine) GP appointment rather than send her in a taxi. I am starting to appreciate just how much my home life has been compromised by working such long hours.—
I am (for the first time in a long, long time) finishing work at 5.00 p.m. What a joy it is to get home and have time to actually do something other than “recover” from the demands of the day. I have actually had time to call round and see my young grandchildren before they go to bed……I have never had the time to do this before as they were already in bed by the time I even left work let alone got home from work. ….so Thank You UCU the working to contract action is an absolute liberation—
I worked all day on two Saturdays in recent weeks to host open days without requesting or being offered any remuneration; Pay was immediately deducted when I went on strike for two days earlier this year. Am I mad? Goodwill indeed.—
My story is simple but has changed my mood… it’s been about 10-days since I’m reclaiming my lunch hour which I spend with my partner… I used to feel guilty about it but not any more!!—
Prior to the campaign I told my line manager that I was regularly exceeding 50 hours per week and that staff should not be expected to exceed the 48hours set in the European working time directive. She told me that we should be grateful to have jobs in the current economic climate. I am now making absolutely sure that I don’t exceed 48hours.—
I have been working more efficiently at work, and not feeling guilty about not bringing work back in the evenings plus spending more time with the children without worrying about what I haven’t done. Actually, this is a more healthy way to work all round, and should really be the norm – our employers would benefit also from happier and more effective employees!—
I have written to two consultants to tell them to stop giving me work I’m not employed to do. This will cost the NHS and University thousands of pounds in delays as they try to coerce others into setting up their clinical trials for them. One was very understanding. The other asked me to break the action, saying it was “Turkey’s voting for Christmas” and “on your’s and the union’s head be it.” This has strengthened my resolve further to work to contract.—
Email your stories to: firstname.lastname@example.org