Message from branch president Ben Plumpton sent to members Tuesday 5 January 2020
Happy New Year, and here’s hoping it is a better one than 2020…
I’m writing to let you know that Leeds UCU is working hard on your behalf related to the current lockdown and with regard to the seriousness of the increasing pandemic. In particular, we have asked the VC to:
- Move everything possible (most teaching, research, support and administration) online again until Easter, i.e. going beyond the (current) Government guidance. This would be the safest thing we could do for our students, our staff, and the wider community. This university can do better than the government guidance, particularly considering how poor the government have been at taking on board scientific advice. And constantly changing arrangements are difficult for both students and staff.
- Review the university provision to support parents and carers, to be more radical and generous in what is on offer, not expecting staff to care full time and work full time, and recognising that it should be OK for carers to do fewer hours and fewer things that they would normally do. (Full detail of our email on this copied below the email to members). We know that many of you have felt a need to keep some carers’ leave in reserve, in case of worse situations, but unfortunately management have taken the fact that few people have ‘used up’ their carers leave to mean there isn’t a problem. So we would encourage you, if you now have caring responsibilities as a result of school closures or any other issues, to make use of any remaining carers leave you have, and thereafter to speak with your line manager about further arrangements (see https://coronavirus.leeds.ac.uk/staff-advice/working-from-home/#balancing_caring_responsibilities)
The campus trade unions are also meeting with Health and Safety this afternoon and with HR tomorrow.
We understand that the university’s Senior Management Team met this morning to take decisions on next steps. We don’t know the full details of how the new national lockdown applies yet, for example what will happen about laboratories or libraries, but we are of course pushing for much improved safety. The latest government guidance (as far as it goes) is here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/949536/NationalLockdownGuidance.pdf
If you aren’t sure what’s going on in your area, or if you are asked to come onto campus despite the lockdown, contact your line manager or head of school/service. If you are concerned about their reply and need your union’s support, email email@example.com or contact your UCU department rep.
We’ll be writing again soon about what’s happening with FBS and Medicine redundancies, and also about our ongoing work on anti-casualisation. We are planning an extra General Meeting soon, probably early in February, so keep an eye open for notification of that.