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Covid-19 information and updates



How to get involved in UCU's health and safety campaigning

19 January 2021

Despite how difficult the last nine months have been, I know UCU members remain committed to providing the very best for the students and colleagues you work with. But you cannot do this in unsafe and unpredictable working conditions.

UCU's position is that as much work as possible should be conducted online in colleges and universities. An Easter return in our colleges and universities looks overly optimistic when the death rate is now the worst in the world, the government's rapid testing programme is under severe scrutiny, and there continue to be huge logistical challenges in rolling out the vaccine.

If you want to be involved in your union's health and safety campaigning but you're not sure how, please come to our Covid-19 health and safety day school on Wednesday 27 January. You can find the link to register here.

Throughout this pandemic our union has been very clear - staff and student safety must be prioritised. The more organised we are on the ground in our branches, the safer we can keep each other. Join our event to learn more about how you can contribute.

It would be disastrous if the Westminster government were to yet again demand that students travel all over the UK only to endure weeks of self-isolation. Students are not cattle and should not be directed around the country to buttress university bank balances through their accommodation payments.

We have consistently called upon the Westminster and devolved governments to commit funds to our sectors and direct colleges and universities to put safety first. Where employers do not work collaboratively with UCU branches to prioritise staff safety, we will continue to support branches in any sector that choose to ballot for action against unsafe in-person working - as I explained to the Observer on Sunday. UCU branches at Northumbria and Birmingham City universities have already held successful ballots for industrial action over this issue.

There is nothing more powerful than working with your fellow UCU members in your branch to keep each other safe. Members throughout the union have managed to do this in different ways, from FE, ACE and HE to prison education. Your branch officers have been emailed with further updates on the resources available and the steps your branch can take to ensure a safe workplace.

Finally, don't forget that our guidance to branches and members on their health and safety rights, along with template letters and other resources, is constantly being updated and can be found in the Covid-19 section of our website.

Jo Grady
UCU general secretary