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The hours (university teachers)

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A critical issue, these days, is the mobilization of temporary staff hired by public administrations, especially with labor relations of more than three years. The European Union has already called, several times, the attention of successive Spanish governments. Let us take Universities as an example of Public Administration, now that, with the end of the academic year, they are designing the Teaching Organization Plans (POD). Plans where the distribution of the subjects of the next year is established between the permanent teaching staff and the teaching staff with successive contracts, that is, the associate teaching staff.

In order to naturalize the disparity in salaries and academic recognition between both types of teachers, an interested look convinces us that the differences between permanent teachers and associate teachers are based on a totally different teaching work both in content and intensity. If so, in those university PODs, we would teach different subjects with different obligations. Let’s see.

Although the figure of associate teaching staff was created by law in 2001 to provide professional experience to the Spanish University, currently, and since 2010, associate teaching staff teach the subjects of the unique implementation in Spain of the Bologna Plan. The material reality is that these subjects are the same as those taught by the rest of the university teaching staff, the stable one, since there are no others. The most remarkable thing about the Euro-homogenized subjects of the Bologna Plan is that teachers receive them already prepared from the objectives and syllabi to how and when to proceed with continuous assessment. There are no subject programs but rather a teaching guide – approved and verified by different internal and external bodies at the universities – where everything is marked.

The permanent teaching staff, which begins with 320 hours of teaching per year, may have to teach only 80 hours

If the subjects taught in a current university degree are not different according to the type of teaching staff, the university teaching hours should have a similar dynamic in terms of content and exercises to correct for continuous assessment. Perhaps the difference, then, is found in the number of hours taught between permanent teaching staff and associate teaching staff.

The permanent teaching staff, which begins with 320 hours of teaching per year (as marked by the current decreto value), you may have to teach as little as 80 hours. This reduction of the so-called teaching load It is offered to you for all the extra-teaching-guide activities you carry out, such as management or research activities. These hourly reductions also directly entail the collection of salary supplements per position or per six-year period of investigation, for example. The material reality of associate teaching staff is contracts of 90 to 180 teaching hours without any option to reduce the teaching load.

Nothing and no one is preventing public universities from continuing to abuse the cheap figure of the associate

Faced with a teaching day that is not so disparate between the different university professors and the teaching of identical subjects, the naturalization of a difference in salary and academic recognition is observed in the neoliberal context where the market segregates between those who have adequate conditions and some unions of class and those who do not have those conditions and need representations of their precariousness such as kellys, the riders or the associated teaching staff platforms. David Graeber defined the differences better than anyone. Associate teaching staff certainly do not carry out the work of posture (bullshits jobs) that with 15 hours a week of real work, hours of preparation are recognized until receiving a salary for 37 hours. Associate teaching staff materialize the work garbage (shits jobs), since it imparts more than 50% of undergraduate teaching – the necessary amount -, charges and contributes little – less than a third of salary for a similar teaching load with stable teaching staff – and has no academic career possibilities.

Nothing and no one is preventing Spanish public universities from continuing to abuse the cheap figure of associate teaching staff. The Observatory of the University System has recently published a report in which it concludes, among other issues, that 70% of Spanish public universities exceed the 40% of legally established temporary PDI hiring.

The University of Valencia, in April 2017, agreed in the Governing Board to recognize the permanent teaching staff that for each teaching hour needed about four hours of work dedicated to preparation (excluding positions, six-year terms and other extra-paid recognitions). In the same document, he explicitly denied those four hours to associate professors. Are we facing an institutional order that articulates exploitation?

Vicent Monroig Y Teresa Samper belong to the PDI Precariat Platform of the University of Valencia.

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