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Branch Update 13/5/20

Dear Member,

 I hope you are keeping well and managing the difficulties and extended workloads of the current situation.

UCU CCCU is maintaining  case work during this period. Please do contact us if you need support or advice.

You will have seen the all-staff e mail of yesterday identifying the re-configuration of the University’s management around the emergent national and local phase two of the CV19 emergency. The email states:

 a new Project 2020/21 group is being created to prepare and position the University for the successful delivery of academic year 2020/21, including the future re-opening of our campuses and facilities, and ways in which we can bring people physically back together. Planning will continue to take account of national government policy and Public Health England advice.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Helen James will chair the group, which brings together representatives from learning and teaching, faculties, research, key professional services, UCU and the Students’ Union. Meeting weekly, the group will take a solutions-focused, holistic and integrated approach.

So the Silver Group (with UCU CCCU representation) and Gold Group (without UCU CCCU representation) will now be disbanded. SMT continues without UCU CCCU direct representation at SMT meetings and UCU CCCU will continue to send your questions and comments directly to SMT and to negotiate directly with SMT the VC and HR.

I have communicated UCU CCCU’s willingness to engage with the P 20/21 group initiative and we will continue to negotiate improved representation of staff and UCU CCCu members within this new context and the new initiatives emerging and across the University. We will additionally negotiate and maintain important positions in relation to redundancies and the review process at CCCU.

The principles and protections we we will negotiate will be informed by yourselves as members and by national UCU contributions as they will be by the work of the broader Union movement. It seems unlikely at the moment that our government will supply the kind of guidelines that can guarantee a safe return to work for all; this underlines the importance of our collective efforts.

The situation is moving rapidly and we will aim to discuss the general situation and this report at the next full Branch Meeting:

Friday 15th at 1.30pm

the link to join us via collaborate is as follows

https://eu.bbcollab.com/guest/944f9264aa3f46d58e4fbcd626f2d19d

Agenda

Chairs Report (see above)

Phase two UCU CCCU response

Members Questions to SMT for this week

(currently –  holidays, promotion, communication, exam boards).

AOB

Please do communicate your views to me and join the Branch Meeting,

Thanks to all who are supporting UCU CCCU and helping us to support all staff, our members and our University at this time.

Best Wishes,

Bryan Hawkins

Chair UCU CCCU

Please see below the weekly questions from UCU CCCU (week ending May 1) and the SMT response.

UCU CCCU communication for SMT Week ending 1st May.

Whilst UCU CCU recognise the great achievements of staff in moving online members have communicated their concerns that:

the University is far from prepared and resourced for extended online operation

student and staff access technology and library resources are patchy and this represents a significant new dimension of inequality experienced by staff and students

any gains that might be predicted and projected onto a new normal for the University need to be treated with great caution, relief felt at managing the immediate emergency is not an indicator that any effective, fair and appropriately resourced extended online delivery can be achieved on this basis alone

there are worries that disabled staff and students are not being fully supported

members feel that have not been effectively involved in the development of teaching and learning initiatives to the extent that will be needed to significantly extend online teaching into next academic year and beyond current emergency provision.

Does SMT recognise and agree the points above ?

Staff will require some access some to their offices to facilitate planning are arrangements for limited access progressing ?

Staff recovering from CV19 have noted the importance of a period of convalescence, staff currently working online are experiencing  increased workloads and difficulties in planning leave. Are these problems and problems of burn-out and extra stress recognised by SMT?

What actions should be taken by staff in these cases and can the Well Being and Mental Health policies be amended in reation to CV19?

Can University managers please clarify, before any meeting, if meetings will be recorded and for what proposes any recording will be used ?

UCU CCCU  request that a joint Special Project with representatives from across the University and including UCU CCCU is established, as a priority to consider the principles and major actions that can establish the University as a Safe Working and Learning Environment.

SMT RESPONSE

Thank-you for your email which Margaret and I have discussed. We felt that your email was very constructive and we appreciate the willingness of the members of CCCU UCU to continue to work in partnership with us as we all work through this difficult period.

Thank-you for emphasising to your members about the FAQs as we will continue to update them.

Our HR colleagues will be issuing a briefing to staff next week which aims to set out the range of support which is available both in the FAQs but also the daily blogs; health and safety guidance for home working; online development support for staff and managers in terms of working remotely and support for staff wellbeing. We do recognise that this is a difficult situation for staff to be working in and that the longer this continues will make it more challenging for some. We do aim to do as much as we can to support staff and hope that the short  5 minute PLULSE survey on well-being that we are launching next week will help us in formulating future plans.   I hope the initiatives set out below will help address some of the points you raise.

Support for managers: We have been working with managers to learn the best ways to support them in their roles management roles.  The result is the attached one-page newsletter, Spotlight, with embedded hyperlinks to take you direct to the source.  We will share a similar round-up approximately every 3-4 weeks.

I attach a Psychology Wellbeing Toolkit, mindful that Mental Health Awareness Week is fast approaching, (w/c 18th May).  The toolkit  is for everyone, managers and teams alike, and will shortly be available as a download from the Work, Wellbeing and Covid-19 webpage.

In terms of the “special project re safe working environment” – we already have the Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework Group that Helen James chairs – which has representation from across the university including UCU. We would suggest that we use this Group as a forum to discuss these issues. A meeting is being planned for the end of this month.

We understand that staff at the university had to very quickly adapt to a new way of working and that in some cases resources etc have had to catch-up. We are committed to ensuring equality of access to services and opportunity for all of our staff and students and in terms of preparing for next academic year we are very conscious of the need to make sure that all students have an excellent and safe learning and student experience. We very much welcome any ideas you might have in helping us to do that.

To answer a couple of specific points:

Access to offices – We have agreed in the Silver Group this week that Heads of School can, with appropriate notice and agreement with Estates, give staff access to their office to pick up items they might need.

Consent for recording of meetings – I have asked for the FAQs to be updated to make it clear that consent must be obtained.  I am aware that some committee meetings have been recorded to help the minute secretary to write up the minutes.  But even in these cases the individual must inform and seek the agreement of the Committee.

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