Dozens gather outside London Metropolitan University in anger at ‘zero-hours’ contracts

Protesters at today's demonstration against zero hours contracts

Protesters at today's demonstration against zero hours contracts - Credit: Archant

Dozens gathered outside a university this afternoon in protest at “zero hours” contracts among the faculty.

Lecturers, councillors and supporters demonstrated in front of London Metropolitan University, in Holloway Road, from 1pm.

More than 850 staff at the university are on contracts which mean they are not guaranteed any work whatsoever from the Holloway college.

Christina Paine a lecturer, said: “When I tell people about what is happening here they are absolutely shocked.

“People are left with no hours whatsoever, sometime between breaks in the academic year when you can’t claim benefits so you are stuck in a situation you can’t get out of.

“It’s exploitative.

“One colleague of mine found out they had cancer, and has then had their hours cut.

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“They are in chemotherapy and have nothing to live off.

“Management seem to have no concept of what they are doing or the affect it has.”

Rob Murthwaite, a senior lecturer at London Met, said: “It went really well, Cllr James Murray came down and was very supportive. Students spoke out about how it’s bad for their education and we gave out about 1,500 flyers.

“People in this situation are very vulnerable and it makes them reluctant to speak out, so it was good to see so many faces.

“These are people with Phds, some of whom have been at the university for 10 or 12 years.

“Our position and the position of the unions is that these are the same exploitative contracts Ed Miliband is known to condemn.

“When he says they need to be stopped, he could easily be talking about London Met.”

A spokesman for the university said: “The use of these contracts is common throughout higher education, with many academics valuing the flexibility they provide. We have lecturers, for example, who teach a few hours a week or have additional posts at other institutions, and so these contracts are well suited to their needs.

Our contracts do not include exclusivity clauses, and we always provide staff with as much notice as possible about teaching commitments.

“London Met is also committed to the London Living Wage,” he added.