Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The situation is changing very quickly, but we’ll use our blog to keep our members updated as much as we can.

For starters, and to play catch up, here’s a message which went out on Tuesday morning, with more to follow….

 

Many members are understandably worried and concerned about the situation and the University’s response to it. In a constantly changing situation, with the Prime Minister issuing contradictory and confusing advice, which is totally at odds with multiple other sources, it’s very difficult for people to know what to do for the best to protect themselves and others.

 

Our members want to work, and want to provide the best possible service to the students and to all of us working at the University. Our collective duty of care to the students we take very seriously and we appreciate that an organisation such as this is a very complex one.

 

However, we strongly believe that the situation is such that the University should implement measures to cease classroom teaching and practical instruction immediately and ask all those members of staff who are able to, to stay at home and work from there if they are able to. Those not able to work from home should be given the ability to choose whether they feel able to attend, given their own personal situation and weighing up the risks to themselves and those around them.

 

We are due to meet with members of the University’s senior management for an emergency safety committee meeting this afternoon, where we, alongside UCU, will be discussing the best way forward for all of us, with the safety of staff and students central to all our considerations. We can’t allow the University community to be in an unsafe environment as a result of slow decision-making and waiting to see what other universities do.

 

Our firm position is that all those members of staff who feel unable to work as normal, for whatever reasons they have, should not be compelled to attend work as normal, but should be paid as usual and should inform their line manager as soon as possible. Casual members of staff should be paid based on their recent average earnings – the University cannot justify forcing people into being unable to survive financially as a result of this crisis.

 

The advice is : Please do not come to work if you feel unwell. If you are concerned about sick pay (i.e. if you are close to half pay or zero pay as a result of a previous illness then the University should waive the application of the sickness policy and pay you in full). Anyone with any health condition which could make them vulnerable should stay at home and avoid contact with others.

 

This afternoon we will be strongly arguing that the University should effectively move to a situation where essential work relating to a duty of care to students and delivery of crucial services continues, but that the workforce is organised in such a way that only those willing and able to be on the premises are working on site, with many others working remotely. It is entirely possible for the University’s workforce to deal with this crisis, with people who understand their own jobs making rational decisions collectively about how the University can be organised over the next few weeks and months.

 

Please take care and at the risk of stating the obvious, please follow all the health advice and consider how your actions can have an effect on yourself and others.

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