'Scrooge' agency axes 6,000 contracts

18th December 1998 at 00:00
Lecturers' supply agency ELS has terminated the contracts of more than 6,000 lecturers and issued new 12-week contracts, fuelling concern over the rights of part-timers.

The new term-time-only "assignments" - which affect a third of those on their books - were in response to the European Union's working time directive, which came into effect on October 1. This lays down that anyone in continuous employment for 13 weeks or more can accrue rights to paid annual leave.

But the move was condemned by lecturers' union, NATFHE, as "Dickensian". The union said:"The spirit of Scrooge is alive and well."

Richard Eve, ELS director of business strategy, defended the move, saying that 70 per cent of the lecturers affected had responded and nearly of all of them had accepted the new terms.

He said: "We are not taking anything away from anybody. We have reissued contracts to reflect the reality of what people teach. Where a lecturer works for 13 weeks or more of continuous lecturing their contract reflects that and they have an entitlement to paid holiday. But the vast majority work for 12 weeks or less."

But Paul Mackney, NATFHE general secretary, said he would be raising the matter with government ministers. "Last week, in response to the Select committee report on FE, the Goverment agreed that part-timers, whether employed by agencies or colleges should have fair treatment," he said. "It promised new rules governing the conduct of these agencies and they won't be a moment too soon."

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today