What is a GTA?
GTAs, or Graduate Teaching Assistants, are employees of the University who are responsible for assisting with the provision of teaching, typically in the form of seminars or laboratory sessions, although some GTAs may also be involved in delivering some lectures. Many GTAs are also postgraduate students at the University. GTAs are paid an hourly rate for the teaching work they undertake.
Different departments across the University have adopted their own terms (including “teaching assistant”, “demonstrator” or “lab assistant”) to describe the GTA role. These terms often reflect the particular types of work that GTAs are involved in within the department.
If you are a GTA, you are an employee of the University of Manchester and you are entitled to join UCU and receive our support. UMUCU already negotiates with the University on your behalf because we are the recognised trade union for academic and academic related staff. Recruiting more members leads to a stronger union, allowing UCU to negotiate better terms and conditions but you can also receive individual assistance if things go wrong. There is a range of subscription levels so that you will not be asked to pay more than you can afford. Joining details appear on our home page along with contact details for the UMUCU office if you'd like a chat about your status first.
I’m a GTA. What problems might I face?
Across the University, GTAs are faced with a number of issues relating to their pay, contracts and working conditions. These issues vary greatly from department to department. However, here are just some of the issues we are aware of:
This is just a small snapshot of some of the challenges that GTAs currently have to deal with.
UMUCU is keen to hear from any GTA who feels they have a problem regarding their pay and conditions as a teaching assistant. The chances are, you are not alone!
What is Manchester University doing to help GTAs?
In early 2009, Manchester University established a working group to investigate and to resolve some of the challenges that GTAs are facing. UMUCU is keen that the group meets regularly so that rapid progress can be made towards delivering meaningful improvements in the pay and conditions for GTAs.
What is UMUCU doing to help GTAs?
First, and foremost, UMUCU is keen to engage with the University’s GTA working group. We welcome the opportunity to meet with the University to discuss the issues that GTAs face, and to find a way forwards that works in the interests of GTAs.
In addition, we are keen to provide effective support to GTAs at Manchester University. However, we face two broad problems in providing that support.
Firstly, we are aware that the issues surrounding GTAs vary greatly from department to department. We are keen for the University to introduce a system that ensures GTAs across departments are treated equally and fairly, while addressing those concerns that naturally arise in individual departments. In order to do this, we need a clear understanding of the issues that affect GTAs in different departments.
Secondly, there is currently a low level of Union organisation amongst GTAs, and many GTAs are unaware of the support the Union can offer them. Effective Union action means collective action, and that in turn means we need you to get involved!
We will, therefore, be holding a series of meetings with GTAs across the University in the coming months. The purpose of these meetings will be to give us an opportunity to talk to GTAs about the issues that they are facing, as well as to explain to them how the Union can help them resolve those issues.
How can I help?
Effective trade unionism begins on the ground, and that means we need a strong network of engaged Union activists. We are keen to get in touch with GTAs who would be interested in helping to build the Union amongst GTAs in their department or to help us build up a clearer picture of the issues that GTAs face in each department.
If you would be interested in getting involved with the Union, or if you are aware of any issues affecting GTAs in your department, please get in touch (see the UMUCU home page for details).