University climbs down over use of zero-hours contracts

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ZERO-HOURS contracts are to be phased out at Edinburgh University, its leaders have confirmed.

The commitment by university bosses to take “immediate steps” to end the use of the controversial deals comes after the University and College Union (UCU) released figures showing the institution is their biggest user, with 2712 academic staff on zero-hour deals. University leaders said they expected the “large majority” of those on zero-hour contracts would have guaranteed hours by the end of 2013.

Edinburgh Central MSP Marco Biagi said: “It is good news that Edinburgh University have made this commitment, ending the worrying casualisation of work on campus. The willingness of university management to engage with staff should be welcomed.

“Abuse of zero-hours contracts is increasingly ­widespread and Edinburgh University do well to put themselves beyond any ­allegations that they are ­involved in the practice.”

In a joint statement with the UCU, a university spokesman said: “The University of Edinburgh, in partnership with its recognised trade unions, has made a commitment to review the use of ‘hours to be notified’ contracts, with a view to ceasing their use at the University.

“In particular, steps are being taken with regard to ­giving staff guaranteed hours and moving to fractional and pro-rata contracts.”