March 4, 2024

The Minister of Universities, Joan Subirats, on March 16 at the UAM.
The Minister of Universities, Joan Subirats, on March 16 at the UAM.Ricardo Rubio (Europa Press)

A few days ago the Organic Law of the University System (LOSU) was approved in the Spanish Parliament, promoted by the Minister of Universities, Joan Subirats. A few hours after its approval, the networks were filled with expressions such as, for example, “a law that stabilizes the working conditions of its professionals”, read on the Twitter of the Minister of Labor herself, Yolanda Díaz.

As can be intuited in the title of this column, in this text we propose you to use different meanings of fake as a tutor ―always teaching as a vocation― to understand the working conditions of associate professors in Spanish public universities before and after LOSU, to understand both the false and the real working conditions of these professionals.

Although the current figure of the associate professorship has more than 20 years, and always had low salaries, the current problems with the associate professorship began from the promulgation of Royal Decree-Law 14/2012, of April 20, on urgent measures rationalization of public spending in education, better known as Wert decree. This royal decree prevented universities from creating new stable teaching positions ―because of the happy replacement rate― and urged university managers to use and abuse the hiring of associate professors. Because, what greater capitalist rationality than hiring the cheapest teaching staff to teach the same subjects as the rest of the teaching staff? What could prevent it? The Organic Law of Universities (LOU, the law prior to the one just approved) that says that associate professors are hired to bring their ―prestigious― professional experience to the classrooms no longer did university students in a teaching that cannot be structural. Who was stopping it? The Labor Inspectorate, no, of course. Furthermore, what professionals could accept teaching any subject and at any time according to the needs of the university departments? Well, of all, between them, professionals with the necessary time flexibility and with sufficient enthusiasm and vocation that would allow the university tyranny to be singled out.

The Spanish public university system, which enjoys certain prerogatives, had to divert attention from the legal fraud in which the university administrations incurred and generated the image of the false associated to discharge blame With “false” it was, and continues to be, an attempt to convey the image of a faculty that lies about their professional situation, a narrative that makes them suspect the intentions of that faculty and frees the contracting organizations. Do we blame the other false freelancers like the riders and not to companies like Glovo? The Minister of Labor, the same Yolanda Díaz, who accused Glovo of obstructing the law and announced sanctions for the company, looks askance at university fraud. Well, that, the Spanish public universities are not only not obliged to comply with labor laws, but they are allowed to cast doubts on their workers and workers.

And now, with the approval of the new law, what happens with the associate professorship? Let’s see. As the universities have to reduce their 40% of temporary hiring ―which, fundamentally, is the associate professorship and that the previous law left at 20%, but that was not fulfilled, due to the prerogatives― to 8% that requires the European Union, the new law indicates that the contracts of the associate teaching staff become indefinite instead of temporary. The sale that the Ministry of Universities has made to the press and that is read in many headlines is that they are going to stabilize the 26,000 associate professors, which sounds very good, but it is false. In this last case, false could be in the sense of “contrary to the truth”, but we are going to leave it in a softer sense of “it is not what it seems”, since they are not going to stabilize those people who have put their body in recent years, due to economic malaise and the pandemic, to maintain university teaching, but what stabilizes are the vacancies, so that the associate professors, in order to remain as such, will have to compete again, forgetting that they already competed to fill the current position. It is time to remember that the associate professorship has been renewed every year, even if there were more than 20, because they are not fired, because they are not entitled to a settlement. Thus, what will happen is that the Spanish public universities, thanks to the new law, will fire 26,000 professors and associate professors for free.

The new law leaves associate professors where they were, in the prosecution of their fraudulent relationship with Spanish public universities.

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