NUS national demonstation

The PGWA welcomes the announcement of the NUS national demonstration on the 21st of November 2012.

The first students to pay £9,000 fees will be starting next academic year and many of the coalition policies, including attacks on university funding, will be taking effect.

We call on the NUS postgraduate section to organise a postgraduate bloc on the demonstration and to build for the biggest possible turn out on the day.

Postgraduates that teach in higher education should be marching alongside students and lecturers to defend education on the 21st November. We will also be raising the demand: “For fair pay and academic freedom”


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UCU Congress 2012 Report-back

The Postgraduate Workers Association (PGWA) was given a enthusiastic welcome at the Universities and College Union (UCU) conference 2012. The network received wide support from the established academics that spoke to us, and the attending post-grads expressed genuine interest at the work we were trying to do.

The PGWA also heard about many organising and campaigning initiatives on campuses from across the country, including the north of England (Teeside, Durham, Leeds) and Scotland (Edinburgh, Aberdeen). We invited the post-grad activists to create reports for our blog, so that the network can share in our successes and learn useful organising methods.

The PGWA was also specifically mentioned as an exciting and important initiative in the Anti-Casualisation Committee (ACC) fringe meeting on the Saturday, at which over 50 UCU activists attended.

There were also a number of motions passed calling on the UCU to initiate or strengthen the union’s activity against casualised working conditions, for fair pay for hourly paid lecturers, and in defence on academic freedom in the face of the introduction of privatisation in Higher Education – these issues being ones that postgrads have to negotiate in their daily lives.

Motions from many branches included anti-casualisation elements and considerations, which indicate a rapidly growing unease about the marketisation of education and the casualisation of the workforce in general.

The UCU Anti-Casualisation Committee is an important initiative within the union that works to highlight the trend towards temporary and hourly paid work in both Further and Higher education, and the growing support for the issues it raises opens up the opportunities for postgraduates experiencing these conditions to have their concerns heard and addressed at their local branches.

A key motion for us was HE17, which established a national precedent for local UCU branches to develop postgrad recruitment drives, whilst linking this to the promotion of the NUS/UCU Postgraduate Charter.

The PGWA has also been invited to organise our own workshop at the upcoming UCU Left national conference in September.

So, the outcomes of conference are that we have developed an awareness of the PGWA within UCU on a national level, have made contacts with activists from numerous institutions across the country (many of whom are already engaged in very similar work to our own and can bring practical ideas and experience to the network), and that we have been invited to curate a workshop at a national conference in Sept.

A successful conference for us all round!

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A new tab has been added to the blog for reports.

We are calling for reports from across the country about experiences of organising postgraduates that teach at different universities.

If you have a report that we can publish please email:

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Postgraduate Workers Association at UCU Conference 2012!

The Postgraduate Workers Association will be making an appearance at UCU national conference in Machester over the weekend! We’ll be offering up our statement calling for better terms and conditions for postgraduate HE workers for all UCU members to sign. We also hope to meet any postgraduate HE workers who are interested in getting involved, for example by setting up a local meeting of the campaign.


UCU conference will be an important opportunity for PGs to make links with one another, and to bring to attention the various inequalities that afflict PG worklife to the assembled membership of our Union.


If you are attending UCU conference and want more information or to get involved with the network, please speak to one of our activist who will be handing out our first bulletin, and will be collecting the details of any postgrads and UCU members who wish to get involved!


We can also be contacted at if you are attending the conference and want to pass on a mobile number or other contact details with the wish to help build the network at the event itself!


I look forward to seeing you there!



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What we stand for!

The Postgraduate Workers’ Association


What we stand for


  • We believe that students who work in higher education are professionals like any other, deserving of the respect, pay and conditions which should also be afforded to their non-student colleagues. We are not free or cheap labour to be exploited, or to be used to undercut our colleagues’ pay and conditions.
  • Student workers, like other workers, are entitled to:
    • comprehensive written contracts
    • fair pay for every hour worked
    • holiday and sick pay
    • stable and secure work and income
    • free and adequate training opportunities and feedback to improve their abilities
    • healthy, safe workplaces
    • trade union representation
    • equal, free access to the resources they need to perform their job
    • fractionalised contracts where appropriate to the nature of the work
    • no threats, or implicit threats, of academic repercussions for matters of employment
  • Research students, as early career researchers, are entitled to adequate and fair access to paid teaching opportunities to develop this aspect of their academic skills. Recruitment practices must be fair, transparent and open.
  • We exist to nurture and coordinate the struggle for improvements in the conditions faced by postgraduate students working in higher education. We aim to organise ourselves as postgraduate students into a mass, democratic movement that fights to advance our interests using every appropriate method, including industrial action, protest, non-violent direct action, and institutional negotiation and lobbying. We will work with all relevant campaigns and organisations, including UCU and other trade unions, NUS and student unions, UCU Left, the Education Activist Network and the National Campaign Against Fees & Cuts.
  • We stand in solidarity with, not against, our colleagues and fellow students. We will never seek to make gains at the unfair expense of other members of our communities. We support free, publicly funded education accessible to all, maintenance grants for all students, and fair pay, pensions and conditions for all workers. We oppose fees and the marketization and privatization of education. We support action taken to advance these principles, in this country and abroad.
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Independent Article on the Meeting

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Welcome to the Postgraduate Workers Association blog!

Welcome to the Postgraduate Workers Association blog,

The Postgraduate Workers Association is a campaign and
network that aims to work with the UCU and NUS to ensure fair conditions
for research students employed by universities.

HE institutions, faced with a funding crisis, are attacking the conditions
established academics and PG employees alike. We stand in solidarity with
all facing attacks these, but it is also crucial that we self-organise our
own sector if we are to oppose the exploitation of ourselves and colleagues.

Last Saturday was our first official meeting, which was covered by the the
Independent here:

*At this meeting we agreed:*

– To set up a wordpress blog that will provide examples of ‘best practice’
where PhD student workers have won
– Publish a founding statement, which we will be sending out soon for
– Organise a small speaking tour with the same workshops
– Organise a larger conference in September
– Work with the UCU for their anti-casualistion day of action in the Autumn
– Create a Postgraduate block on the Autumn NUS Demo

*This is only a start, and we urgently seek peoples ideas, creativity
and perspiration!*

To get involved, or have a problem at your institution you would like to
ask others about, let us know on the blog or via email, and please pass this address
to anyone who is interested.


Twitter: @PG_worker

If you want to be more centrally involved, please join our discussion group
(nb 2-3 emails a day)

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