Information in English
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The “Network for Decent Labour in Academia”

Basic Information about us in English

Who we are

The “Network for Decent Labour in Academia” is an open, transregional association of initiatives and individuals from mid-level academia across Germany. Being primarily the voice of  mid-level scholars and employees and an advocacy of their interests, we nevertheless stand for decent working conditions in academia for all status groups. We fight for a comprehensive democratisation of universities and research institutions.

Excerpts from our Call for Action: Endlich kollektiv handlungsfähig werden – Aufruf zur Vernetzung des akademischen Mittelbaus” (2016)

„For reasons only too well known to us, there is a lot of unrest at the mid-level in Germany's universities and research institutions. However, comprehensive organisation and networking of mid-level initiatives is still weak. Many local initiatives are working in isolation, lacking a structure that would interlink mid-level groups, faculty campaigns and voices in acute local conflicts so as to enable collective, transregional agency and impact on national politics. With this call, we want to begin the process of our networking. We hope to achieve at the very least a shared public agency (and public relations activities) as well as systematically increased options of coordinated campaigning, if not the ability to strike. At the same time, we expect cooperation with supportive faculty and students to considerably profit from a concerted mid-level academia that both gathers and multiplies its many voices.“

Two years after our eventual founding in January 2017 we have realised quite a few of our expectations already: we are currently interlinking and coordinating a growing number of mid-level initiatives at universities, research institutions, academies and universities of applied sciences. We kick off campaigns and we reach an increasingly large public. And the big Higher Education strike … will become ever more likely the more of you get involved! Please get in touch: mail@mittelbau.org.

What we want

Our main goals (extensive arguments available in German only) summarised in English:

 

  1. Abolition of the Temporary Employment in Higher Education-Act
  2. Appropriate scale-based wages and minimum contract terms for PhD students; standard social insurance contributions for all employments, standard permanent employment for post-docs
  3. Abolition of the habilitation system
  4. Appropriate wages for teaching assignments and non-licensed professors undertaking mandatory teaching assignments
  5. Compulsory rollback of inequalities and discrimination
  6. Replacement of Chairs by democratically organized department structures
  7. Rollback of the ‚third party funding‘-system; expansion of the core funding of universities in realistic adjustment to student numbers

Background

For a discussion of the specific problems of casualisation in German academia as well as their implications for organising resistance, see the articles by our activists Britta Ohm (“Excellent Dequalification. The New Academic Precariat”) and Peter Ullrich (In Itself, But Not Yet For Itself – Organising the New Academic Precariat).

Our Activities in detail

  • The predominantly Berlin-based coordinating committee that is open to all, is currently interlinking a growing number of mid-level initiatives at universities, research institutions, academies and universities of applied sciences.
  • We hold yearly meetings of members from these local initiatives so as to discuss inputs, contentious issues and and ways ahead.
  • We entertain a shifting number of topical working groups that feed into the larger discussion and focus on key questions in detail (for a list please register with slack). For interested non-German speakers/non-naturalized scholars the working group international/intersectional justice might be a good first addressee.
  • We engage with everyday politics of Higher Education, i.e. we interact with and challenge speakers, experts and representatives of various parties and ministries (regional and national); we collect data on the scope of the precariat and the conditions of academic and non-academic work in research and Higher Education; we evaluate regulations and legislations (e.g. the central and highly controversial Temporary Employment in Higher Education-Act) and continuously monitor statements, announcements and party programs for their translations into practice.
  • We support protests and negotiations at the regional/local level as well as kick off campaigns, such as the ‚occupation‘ of the conference of university presidents in Potsdam in 2017 and the ongoing large Frist-ist-Frust-(‚Temporary is Terrible‘)-campaign that NGAWiss organizes together with the unions ver.di and GEW.
  • In these trying times, we support and try and interact with as many agents, groups and movements as possible that are in the pursuit of  responsible critical politics of justice and equality, such as #unteilbar, Academics for Peace and others.
  • We continuously issue publications, both as individual members (texts, articles) and as an organization (press releases, statements, reports); we interact with various media, deal with requests for interviews and coverage; we speak on panels, at meetings, demonstrations, workshops and conferences or on invitation, thereby (slowly)  reaching an increasingly large public and challenging the still persistent shiny image of German academia both in the country and abroad.