Statement: Opinion piece in the Guardian of 27th September “Think only low–paid workers get the Sports Direct treatment? You’re wrong”

Business news

Tuesday 27 September 2016

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The Guardian newspaper published on 27th September an opinion piece which made reference to fixed-term contracts at the University Group. We believe key facts and context were missing from the article.

Coventry University Services had employed a number of English teaching staff on short, fixed-term contracts, which is standard practice across the sector. We would like to clearly state, contrary to reported comments, that none of these staff members has been sacked. The situation was, in fact, that fixed contracts had expired. The opportunity for new roles in the autumn term was offered with thefutureworks. The new contracts have improved terms – including a contract completion payment and a 1.1% pay rise – with no changes to sick pay and holiday. They were not “zero-hours” contracts. These facts were not included in the opinion piece, which was a pity.

The movement of some staff members’ contracts across the University Group is a process that began some time ago and is continuing. We have been in touch with staff regularly about it. Over the past year, for example, student ambassadors, interns and some foreign language tutors have moved to contracts with thefutureworks. A review of our pre-sessional English teaching services has been part of that. This work is in annual or regular cycles so there are times when it is more in demand than other times -  therefore, a flexible approach is appropriate.

We have made changes in direct response to developments across the Higher Education sector. Like many other HE institutions, we have had to find new ways to be flexible and to continue to deliver more high quality teaching and learning here and overseas. We remain in touch with our staff and trade unions about changes and any prospective challenges we face.