UCU Week of Action Against Workplace Racism

UCU Week of Action Against Workplace Racism

(22-26 February 2021)

LUCU would like to call members’ attention to this week of national action. Action Against Workplace Racism aims to encourage anti-racist initiatives in further and higher education to transform education by placing the broader anti-racist agenda at the centre of our thinking – from how we relate to each other as colleagues to how we teach and carry out research/enterprise activities.

The theme for this week of national action is Community Accountability: an antiracism for abolitionist times.  For more information about the lived experiences of racism, its impacts on Black and Global Majority people in education, and how we might act to bring about change, members may find the following video material of interest.

Building an anti-racist environment: barriers to progression (2 mins)
The Race Pay Gap (2 mins)
Racism in the workplace – ‘intelligent covert racism’ (2 mins)
Micro-aggressions – ‘death by a thousand cuts’ (2 mins)
Unconscious bias – ‘what will it take for the unconscious to become conscious?’ (3 mins)

You can find out more about the UCU campaign here.

LUCU Committee

Working Safely During the Pandemic

Working Safely During the Pandemic

Following on from Wednesday’s EGM on Covid and Health & Safety, our branch is inviting Expressions Of Interest from our membership in undertaking this course: Working Safely During the Pandemic: a webinar focussing on key topics around working safely this year. The course is 90 minutes long (date and time TBC).

The course will be for LUCU members only, but it will be run by National UCU.

If you take part, the expected learning outcomes are:

  • Understand why it’s important to unapologetically look after your health and wellbeing at this time;
  • Identify some of the challenges you face in working safely, whether from home, back in the workplace or a blend of the two;
  • Be clear about what support you can expect from your employer;
  • Identify support available from UCU.

Please click here to send an expression of interest.

LUCU Committee

Solidarity with Leicester UCU

Solidarity with Leicester UCU

The following letter of solidarity has been sent to Leicester UCU

Dear Leicester UCU,

We write as the committee of Loughborough UCU to express our full solidarity with you and your members in the face of threatened redundancies. We are in full agreement with the analyses you make in your statement on this matter, and are dismayed by the actions of the  University of Leicester’s senior management. Every proposed redundancy concerns us, though we note that trade union activists and academics undertaking critical research are among those targeted. We are also especially appalled by the suggestion that proposed redundancies in Medieval Literature have been justified in the name of ‘decolonisation’. Such a cynical misuse of this movement is a clear attempt to turn movements critical of higher education management against one another, and is an affront to those who fight for racial equality within and beyond the academy. 

Solidarity should not, of course, be contingent on proximity. But as near neighbours we recognise we may be in a strong position to provide support to your branch in the struggle ahead: please feel free to get in touch if there is anything we can do. 

In solidarity, 

The committee of Loughborough UCU

Vaccination of Clinically Extremely Vulnerable

Vaccination of Clinically Extremely Vulnerable

We have just been sent the below information from Rob Johnstone on behalf of the TUC Midlands, which may be useful info for Clinically Extremely Vulnerable members.

Anyone who is Clinically Extremely Vulnerable can book their Covid vaccine appointments at the below link. It does not require a letter, they just need their NHS number (it appears at the top of their shielding letter from the DHSC).

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/

LGBTQI+ History Month

LGBTQI+ History Month

February is a time to highlight and celebrate the contributions of LGBTQI+ communities in Britain.

At a time when the Covid pandemic is increasing existing inequalities globally, and countries such as Poland and Hungary are removing hard-won rights, it is especially important that we stand in solidarity with LGBTQI+ people, who often face discrimination in accessing healthcare among other inequities. Closer to home we have concerns about the government’s recent decision to shelve improvements to the Gender Recognition Act and the potential for transphobic implications of the government’s consultation on gendered toilet provision.

We would like to call attention to an excellent resource bank that UCU has put together to commemorate the history of LGBTI+ communities and to highlight and combat ongoing discrimination. This includes short videos on understanding what is meant by LGBT+ and what issues the community can face at work.

You can find all of the resources at UCU – LGBT+ History Month

LUCU Committee – 5th Feb 2021

LUCU Covid Bulletin: 25th January

LUCU Covid Bulletin: 25th January

In light of the more transmissible variants of Covid-19 (including B117 plus at the time of writing, others) and the upsurge in infections, UCU advised branches to consult with employers on revised workplace risk assessments and control measures and to confirm implementation of recommended safety measures for any workers undertaking onsite or in-person work.  The information below is intended to illustrate for members what UCU has called for and how Loughborough University is responding. 

While the university relies on government guidance in determining what measures to put into place, other sources of information also inform decision making. We have provided links to information that has informed our discussions with management on Covid-secure measures, and in the interest of transparency and clarity, we are providing links to relevant documents. Not all materials are available online. If you would like to read any of the documentation cited here, please contact the branch and we will provide a copy.

Given how quickly the Covid landscape can change, committee members are continuing to meet regularly with senior management to review and monitor health and safety measures related to Covid. We will regularly update members as and when UCU health and safety guidance changes and/or the lockdown period ends. We would like to thank Neil Budworth (Director of Health Safety and Wellbeing) and Anne Lamb (Deputy Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development) for the generous amount of time they spend with the campus unions discussing health and safety and providing responses to our written requests for information.

If members have further queries, please don’t hesitate to ask. If you are currently working on campus and feel that sufficient health and safety measures are not in place or see evidence of poor compliance, please alert your line manager/local health and safety officer, and let us know.  Remember that you have the right to work in a safe environment: if you feel that there is a serious and imminent danger which you cannot avert yourself, and that you have brought to the attention of your line manager and/or local health and safety officer, then under the Employment Act 1996 section 44, you have the right to remove yourself from that situation until that danger is resolved. While staff can remove themselves from immediate danger, this is not an action that should be taken in isolation. Please continue to report any deviation from safety protocols as soon as you become aware of them.

The address for committee correspondence is: UCU@lboro.ac.uk

What UCU asks for…

What Loughborough University is doing…

Reduce the number of people required on site to the lowest level possible so that only essential and unavoidable work activities take place during lockdown.

Only essential and unavoidable work activities are currently taking place.

Reduce the number and duration of in person interactions to the lowest level possible.

Number and duration of in person interactions have been brought to the lowest level possible (currently this affects mainly grounds crew, security personnel, etc.).

Reduce the number of people permitted in a space at any one time to the lowest level possible.

The number of people permitted in one space is being kept to the lowest level possible (e.g. by staggering clocking in).

Set a safety threshold for ventilation of 12-17 litres per second per person for typical offices and educational settings. SAGE suggests employers adopt a precautionary approach. 

The university has/will take a precautionary approach by increasing ventilation rates to reflect the increased risk of transmissibility of the new variants) of COVID-19, as recommended the HSE, DfE and CIBSE (professional engineering association authority for ventilation).

 

Ensure a minimum of 2m social distancing as standard.

 

Measures are in place so that staff should be able to maintain a 2m distance in working environments. The guidance that Loughborough has been given directly by HSE and PHE is that they are not planning to change the guidance and that the main thing (as emphasised by the SAGE report) is compliance with the precautions in place.

Ensure all essential workers undertaking in-person work have the highest possible level of respiratory protection. This should be FFP3 face masks (providing 99% particle filtration) where available and with priority for workers who could have interactions that fall below 2 metres social distancing and FFP2 face masks as a minimum standard for all (providing 94% particle filtration). 

*Please see below for further details.

Where colleagues have to work within 2 metres of others, FFP2/3 masks will be recommended, and face fit testing provided.  These masks are not suitable for in person work where individuals do not come within 2m of others as they require careful fitting to the face and make breathing harder (due to the resistance from the filtration).  There is also a national/international supply shortage of these masks; hence, the university is reserving them for the circumstances where the protection is needed.

 

Ensure any use of face coverings in the workplace meets the WHO standard of three protective layers (Type IIR surgical masks). 

The university recommends the use of multi-layer coverings.  When campus re-opens, LUCU will continue to advocate for the most appropriate level of PPE to minimise risks for staff and students.

Ensure effective cleaning and hygiene measures are in place.

 

In light of the new Covid variant, all health and safety risk assessments are being reviewed, in consultation with campus unions, and effective cleaning and hygiene measures are in place. Additional ventilation has been provided in teaching spaces where needed. Fallow periods have been implemented/increased in rooms where needed to ensure pre/post-use clearing of the air. 

Ensure all workers and anyone they interact with during the working day receive adequate instruction, information, and training on any new safety measures that need to be followed.

 

Information and training instructions are being/will be regularly updated as and when new safety measures are put in place. This guidance will be disseminated to staff at school/unit level.

Ensure lateral flow testing is undertaken by highly trained volunteers.

 

 

Ensure access to regular testing for all who are not able to work or study remotely. Where lateral flow tests are used to identify asymptomatic cases, ensure a minimum of two negative tests prior to any attendance on site.

 

Lateral Flow Testing is being offered to staff and students, with a view to building up to between 16,000 to 20,000 per week, with further consideration being given to twice weekly testing. Students are encouraged to book a second test when booking their first one but not all students are attending for their second test.  Consideration is being given to how this can be improved on.  A positive LFT will result in the individual being asked to isolate and referred for a confirmatory PCR test (either internally or through the NHS depending on the circumstances).

Ensure workers and students are given support to quarantine, self-isolate and undertake testing as required. Testing should not be used to reduce isolation periods for close contacts of infected people.

Support for testing, quarantine and isolation is in place for students and testing is not used to reduce isolation periods after a positive PCR test (testing may be used to reduce the quarantine time for international travellers etc. where all prior testing has been negative). To arrange testing see here.

Any workers at increased risk from COVID should not be required to undertake in person work at this time and alternatives should be offered to ensure exposure risks are avoided or minimised.  

Clinically extremely vulnerable staff are not expected to undertake in person work. At present, in person teaching is limited to specific permitted courses and/or year groups for activities which cannot be delivered online, i.e. requiring access to specialist facilities. The situation will remain under review.

*Ventilation

Documents from the Health and safety Executive (HSE), Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and the Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Associations (REHVA) have been issued during the COVID-19 Shutdown. These documents have been updated several times to reflect new knowledge. We have used these documents to aid our response to the Covid-19 situation.

CIBSE COVID-19 Ventilation Guide (Version 4, Published 23rd October 2020)

HSE – Air conditioning and ventilation during the coronavirus outbreak

REHVA COVID-19 Guidance (Version 4, Issued November 17th 2020)

REHVA COVID-19 Limiting Internal air leakage across the Rotary Heat Exchanger

REHVA COVID-19 Use of Fan Coils and avoiding Recirculation

CIBSE – Coronavirus COVID 19

LUCU Committee

LUCU Covid Bulletin: Critical Workers and Schooling Guidance

LUCU Covid Bulletin: Critical Workers and Schooling Guidance

While we will continue to update members on Covid-related matters in our regular newsletter, we will also update you through e-bulletins as new information emerges about how the university is responding to the pandemic.

We are writing in response to members’ 1) requests for clarification about the government’s categorisation of university employees as critical workers and what arrangements this allows them to access for their children’s schooling, 2) to clarify the position for staff with children in nursery/day-care and, 3) to clarify the position for casual staff.

Full Government guidance for critical workers may be found here: Critical workers and vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The University’s FAQs relevant to critical workers and caring responsibilities may be found here: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/internal/coronavirus/staff/faqs/ 

UCU Guidance on Critical Care Worker Status in HE is available here for your convenience.

Confirmation of Critical Worker Status

  • To request a letter confirming your critical worker status, please ask your line manager to email: iTrentAdmin@lboro.ac.uk.

Primary and Secondary Schoolchildren

  • Only one person needs to qualify as a critical worker for children to attend a primary or secondary school. However, depending on capacity, schools have the power to restrict attendance; for example, they might require that both parents be critical workers.
  • If you are working remotely and prefer not to send a child to school while government guidance states that only vulnerable pupils and pupils of key workers should attend in person, the university has committed to supporting staff as much as possible to balance home-schooling requirements with workload.
  • If you are working remotely and prefer not to send a child to school while government guidance states that only vulnerable pupils and pupils of key workers should attend in person, members can request a period of unpaid leave or that their hours of work are reduced on a temporary basis.
  • Members should contact their line manager to discuss how best to manage workload while carrying out home-schooling or to discuss the options of unpaid leave or reduced hours.
  • Staff are under no obligation and will not be compelled to take unpaid leave or to reduce their hours of work if they cannot send their children to school, or if they decide they would prefer not to send their children to school, while government guidance remains in place for prioritizing vulnerable pupils/pupils of key workers.

Children in Nursery/Day-Care

Government guidance does not currently apply to children who attend nursery/day-care because such facilities can remain open. However, we can report that management is committed to being as supportive as possible to all staff who have childcare and/or other caring responsibilities and may be experiencing difficulties due to the pandemic.  Members may contact their line manager for support. Your personal circumstances will be considered, and an effort made to agree the best way forward to balance work and childcare.

Casual Staff

The University has agreed to pay hourly paid workers for agreed and scheduled work that cannot take place due to COVID-19.  Therefore, the same arrangements as described above apply also to casual staff with caring responsibilities arising from Covid-19 – but only for work that has been agreed.

If you experience any difficulties in making suitable arrangements with your manager related to home-schooling, childcare and workload, please contact your area Rep or the branch at UCU@lboro.ac.uk. You may find your Rep’s contact details here:  Department Reps – Loughborough UCU (lboro.ac.uk).  You may also contact your HR Partner for further guidance.

LUCU Committee

Loughborough UCU: Position Statement on Race Equality

Loughborough UCU: Position Statement on Race Equality

LUCU recommends that the University:

  • Be open and transparent regarding race inequality statistics at the university with the intention to improve outcomes and achieve parity over time
  • Be pro-active in taking positive action to improve outcomes for staff and students from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, with a focus on increasing BAME leadership for staff and closing the degree awarding gap for BAME students
  • Refrain from considering ‘BAME’ and/or ‘international’ as static, homogenous categories, and instead seek to take account of the specific forms of oppression and exploitation which different groups face
  • Draw upon and utilise expertise from within its academic community and beyond to inform its definitions, processes and procedures around race equality and ensure they are fit for purpose.
  • Challenge racist legislation from the Home Office surrounding the surveillance of international students and staff, and comply to only the legally minimal extent
  • Increase financial and legal support to international staff struggling with time-consuming and costly procedures regarding their citizenship, settled status and/or right to work in the UK (and similar)
  • Reduce reliance on casual contracts (including zero hours contracts), as they disproportionately affect BAME colleagues
  • Become an accredited Living Wage employer on both campuses, considering the fact that low pay disproportionately affects BAME colleagues
  • Be willing to engage with and take on board constructive critique regarding race-related matters at the university
  • Recognise how intersectionality can result in particular groups of staff and students’ facing specific problems or disadvantages which remain unaddressed by initiatives focussing only on one aspect of their identity, demographic characteristics and/or social positionality.
  • Ensure BAME staff are recognised and compensated for their efforts and contributions to the race equality and EDI strategies of the university through accurate citation and agreed workload hours, secondment time or additional payments. Additional payments should also be available to casual staff, who should be encouraged to contribute and rewarded where they do so.
  • Create and promote accessible pathways for students, especially BAME students, to contribute to and demonstrate leadership within the university’s race equality efforts. This may involve creating paid positions for students and pay for these roles should be at a level which acknowledges the importance of the work and the emotional labour it requires.
  • Systematise and share knowledge about best practice in race equality throughout the university through staff and student development.

LUCU are pleased to share this Race Equality statement which has been co-developed with LU BAME staff network.

LUCU Statement on Anti-Racism

LUCU Statement on Anti-Racism

12.06.2020

Black Lives Matter protests in the past week across the United States and worldwide have demonstrated international resistance to, and outrage against, police and white supremacist murders of Black people, most lately George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade, as well as David McAtee and Jamel Floyd who were killed by police during the protests. Many people who want to condemn racism and show support for the Black Lives Matter cause have been asking “What can I do?”

First, it is important that we do not tell ourselves that this problem exists only in the USA.  As a colonising nation Britain has a deeply problematic track record with race relations, which is far from over, as evidenced by the recent Windrush scandal, ongoing police brutality and racism, racialised unequal COVID19 health outcomes, including the condemnable deaths of Belly Mujinga and Trevor Belle, Black British essential workers, both of whom were assaulted at work and later died of COVID19. We should recognise that the legacy of colonialism, including structural and interpersonal racism (overt and covert), anti-Blackness, shadeism and colourism, lives on across Europe and worldwide.

Second, we can call attention to the issue. In particular, we believe it is the role of white people, and those whose racial backgrounds put them in closer proximity to whiteness, to use their relative privilege and safety to amplify Black voices and advocate for change. The ability to ignore this issue and believe it does not concern you is one way that structural racism is perpetuated. In response to this moment, it is not enough to be “not racist”.  We must be “anti-racist”.

Third, we can acknowledge and understand the history that has made it necessary to demand in this moment that Black lives do matter. Racial inequality in the world today is the outcome of historical processes, producing structural racism benefiting white people, while othering and discriminating against those who are not white. 

Finally, we can recognise that many Black colleagues and students, and those of mixed Black heritage are currently experiencing trauma, anger and exhaustion, as a result of the combination of everyday racism, the disproportionate health impacts of COVID19 on communities of colour, and the heightened racialised violence, pressure and anxiety of this moment. The LUCU committee extends to them our care and concern, and we urge supervisors and peers to please be mindful of and compassionate to these circumstances.

We welcome the articulate response from Loughborough University and its commitment to recognise its part in the problem and dedication to being part of the solution, as well as the Vice-Chancellor’s recent statement in which he centres the importance of challenging racism, and positioning the university as anti-racist. LUCU are also committed to (1) working closely with the BME staff network to address issues of racism within the union, and (2) continuing to engage with university management to improve staff experiences in a way that is cognizant of the specific issues faced by Black staff, staff of colour and minority backgrounds. In addition to anti-Black racism, we also wish to speak out against the everyday Sinophobic and Islamophobic racism against Asian and Muslim colleagues and students on campus and in Loughborough, which has increased due to COVID19, and the ongoing challenges of the hostile environment for immigration that affects our international colleagues.

We invite all members of our University community, but particularly those who are white, to respond to this opportunity to listen, learn and take action.  Below we provide a range of suggestions, some which can be done for free in seconds, others which ask you to invest some money or time. While some of the resources were developed in the US, this does not mean they are irrelevant to us in the UK.

More recommended books available here.

Resources for teaching staff

Educators have a special role to play in tackling racism in the curriculum, in the classroom, and in the student experience as a whole.  These resources will support you in doing this.

Resources for Black/BME Colleagues

Acknowledgements

Thank you to the individual members of the BME, International, and LGBT staff networks, many of whom are UCU members, who co-developed this statement on our behalf. Thank you also to all the Black, Indigenous, people of colour, and white ally thinkers, activists and content creators whose excellent work we draw upon here.  

LUCU Statement regarding the Strike

LUCU Statement regarding the Strike

We are writing about the email sent by the Vice Chancellor on Wednesday 13 November regarding the strike.

The VC is quite right that he engaged with staff, and that he has made a public call for limiting employee contributions to 9.1%. Most Vice Chancellors have not done this and we appreciate the VC has made himself unpopular with some of them. Further, we acknowledge the frustration for our VC that some of the universities where the ballot turnout did not exceed the 50% threshold have less proactive, less sympathetic Vice Chancellors. Moreover we take his expressed concerns about the financial implications of increased contributions by the university seriously and in good faith.

However UCU’s position is that no one, not employees and not employers, need have their contributions increased. Rather at the root of the dispute is the valuation method. The debate is not “who should fund the increases” but whether or not increases are necessary.

The resolution to the 2018 strikes came from the establishment of a UUK/UCU Joint Expert Panel, which was tasked with reviewing the valuation method and proposing a way forward. If the methodology recommended by the Joint Expert Panel in their first report had been implemented, then neither employer nor employee contributions would be going up.

A couple of other points. The VC’s email mentioned that “employees currently contribute 9.6% of salary” but we highlight that this is only true since 1st October 2019. It was 8% before last year’s strike, then went to 8.8% and now has gone up to 9.6%. The email also noted that the USS Trustee includes UCU representatives but two clarifications are in order. First, UCU has nominees not representatives: these nominees are legally independent of UCU, and their actions are not controlled by UCU. Second, in recent weeks one of the UCU nominees, Professor Jane Hutton, was dismissed by USS after raising concerns about their valuation method.

Finally, we note that our VC is in engaging in meaningful discussion with LUCU committee and is making constructive proposals about how we might resolve the situation. We are grateful to have such a proactive and sympathetic Vice Chancellor at Loughborough who engages meaningfully with the branch and we do not take this for granted. We will be in touch again to canvas members’ views on the options as we see them.

LUCU Committee