This was sent today (21st September) from the Kingston UCU branch committee to the Senior Leadership Team, through the official channel of the Joint Negotiating and Consultative Committee (JNCC):
Dear JNCC colleagues,
KU UCU fervently request that Senior management adopt an immediate change of policy on face to face teaching in TB1.
Prompted by the rapidly changing Covid 19 national situation and particularly the dramatic increases in cases in our city, we request that all teaching be moved online except where face to face teaching is essential on pedagogic grounds.
The university has stated a commitment to review policies if the national situation changes. That time is now!
Further, KU UCU are not satisfied that campuses provide a safe working environment for our staff and students. Despite repeated requests we still have not had satisfactory clarity in relation to many H&S issues, particularly reporting of positive cases, and subsequent testing and tracing. We cannot recommend that our members return to a less than safe working environment. It also looks likely that the London Mayor will call for working from home and essential only use of public transport in the next few days. We believe that asking staff and students to travel and work/ learn on campus at this time puts them at unnecessary risk, particularly when online delivery is a viable and safer alternative.
We are also concerned about reports of strong arm and coercive tactics aimed at pressuring colleagues into returning to campus. We are logging these and will raise with management.
KU UCU branch committee
This is the two weeks in the making management response to our demand for online teaching as the default: Response letter to UCU Branch motions AJK 150920 DM
We will send further updates, but this clearly falls short of our, and the national UCU, position on safe return to campus.
Thank you to everyone who attended today’s extraordinary meeting of the KU UCU branch – it felt incredibly positive and productive despite the fairly grim circumstances. This is the final version of the motion
which was passed unanimously by the branch below. Our top level demand is that online teaching should be the default option for all courses.
The next steps are that this motion will be submitted for discussion at JNCC, which is the official forum in which management and UCU discussions take place. We are not optimistic about this being received positively so we will be discussing taking further action as a union after this (suggestions welcome!).
We are all now being invited to participate in campus re-induction events, after which we are being asked to state whether we feel confident about returning on campus. As this is being taken as a proxy for confidence with delivering face-to-face teaching, we are advising all members irrespective of whether they are in a vulnerable category or have caring responsibilities for or live with someone in a vulnerable category to respond no they are not confident about returning on campus. Line managers should then initiate a conversation with you – do not initiate it yourself.
Thanks again for your support. We will be in touch again as soon as we have further updates.