Anti-Casualisation Meeting, 11th Nov 13:00

We will be giving members an update on local work in this area. We are also hoping to have regional/national speakers to update you on UCU campaigning from a wider perspective. This is an open meeting, so please do join us if you are on a precarious contract and/or if you would like to support your colleagues who are experiencing contract precarity. You are also welcome to invite colleagues who are non-members, so if you know someone who would like to find out more, please do pass on the meeting link.

Members can also find out more re national UCU campaigning here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/stampout

National UCU information on protecting precarious workers during Covid-19 is here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/10736/Protecting-precarious-workers

The #CoronaContract website is here: https://coronacontract.org/ ‘This website contains relevant information, actions and resources to further the #CoronaContract campaign to secure the livelihoods of casualised university and college staff.’

Members may also find the following national events of interest:

UCU has adopted a policy to campaign for postgraduate researchers (PGRs) to be recognised as members of staff. We are keen to discuss this with our PGR members and to hear your ideas and thoughts about the campaign. To register for the event and to submit any questions you may have please click on the link above.

National UCU Anti-casualisation organising and training event on Thursday 19 November (2:00pm – 5:00pm) and Saturday 21 November (10:00am-1:00pm)  For more details, and to register for the event, please click here.

200923 Resolution Passed: Motion for Brunel branch on ‘hard’ or ‘no-deal’ Brexit

Motion for Brunel branch on ‘hard’ or ‘no-deal’ Brexit

This UCU branch notes that no major country has ever left the European Union or similar trading bloc. A recent report by the independent (King’s College London based) research group, The UK in a Changing Europe, stated that “no deal will not get Brexit done” and instead would be the start of a “period of prolonged uncertainty for citizens, workers and businesses”. Unfortunately, in terms of securing a proper UK/EU trade deal (to replace the current trading arrangements), the UK is running out of time. At present, during the current so-called transition period, we are trading with the EU on the same level ‘single market customs union’ basis that we did when we were still in the EU. That privileged position will come to an abrupt end at the end of this year (when the transition period expires), unless a mutually beneficial new trading relationship is negotiated. At present, a ‘no deal’ exit looks increasingly likely. Such an exit is expected to cause
• GDP 5% to 10% lower over the course of the next 10-15 years than it would have been, had the UK stayed in the EU. Treasury data also states that the limited free trade deal planned with the EU would strip 6.7% from the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) over a similar time scale – meaning £130bn of lost growth.
• The UK finding itself trading with the EU on purely World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms, with import tariffs on goods ranging from 3–25% and additional non-tariff barriers adding a further 14%.
• A possible increase in net public borrowing of between £96bn and £141bn by 2035/2036, according to the Government’s long-term analysis. Government borrowing has already risen by an extra £200bn since March to deal with Covid-19.
• Foreign Direct Investment to fall by around 24% and overall business investment by 3.5% over the long term.
• The UK’s trade with its biggest partner, the EU – which accounts for 49% of UK trade with a further 10% from countries with an existing Free Trade Agreement with the EU – damaged.
• As well as the high ‘no deal’ trade tariff costs, the Government’s modelled ‘no deal’ scenario also includes non-tariff-related costs (in UK/EU trade) of 10% for goods and 11% for services. Non-tariff barriers (NTBs) include customs checks, regulatory barriers, rules of origin, administration costs, etc.
• Significant delays at UK borders, with supply shortages in key sectors for both businesses and households.
• Further negative effects on our environment, health, security, workers’ rights, consumer protection and the integrity of the UK.

This UCU branch notes the likely, multiple negative consequences of these economic and other effects of a ‘hard’ or ‘no-deal’ Brexit on higher education and those working within the sector.

This UCU branch further notes with regret that the national UCU, consumed as it is by issues arising from the COVD-19 pandemic, has had little to say about this impending disaster.

This UCU branch therefore calls on the national UCU to use its profile and resources to apply pressure on the government to reach comprehensive deals with the EU on trade and other issues in order to avoid the multiple negative consequences outlined above.

200923 Motion Passed Unanimously: Brunel’s Return to Work Plan

Motion by UCU Branch Committee On Brunel’s Return to Work Plan

This branch notes:

1. UCU branch officials have been in talks with Brunel University’s Senior Management in the Delivery of Education group, in the Health and Safety Group and in the Staff Consultative Committee. These talks have been productive in some regards but there are major areas of concern outstanding.

2. That from the outset of these Covid-19 discussions the UCU branch strategy was that Brunel should provide on-campus testing for staff and students and an effective on-campus track and trace system, in order to mitigate the national government’s failure to provide an effective system of testing, track and trace. Brunel could have been a ‘market leader’ in this regard. Exeter University for example is offering staff and students on-campus testing for C-19. While Brunel has indicated that they are in discussion with Hillingdon Borough and other local universities to offer on-campus testing, we have had no clear statement as to where these plans are and when or if they will be effectively implemented.

3. That branch officials have repeatedly insisted that online teaching should be the default mode of delivery (as per the official UCU view), citing both the latest Independent Sage and “official” Sage reports.

4. That in the first wave of Covid-19 Brunel University’s Dr Jie Chen died of Covid-19 on Sunday March 29th, aged 55.

5. That the University has opted for a partial normal ‘campus’ experience for students which includes some on-campus face to face teaching.

6. That there are wide variations in the demands being made on staff in different departments to deliver on-campus face to face teaching, that these are inconsistent and therefore unfair and present a public health risk to staff and students.

7. That branch officials have repeatedly insisted that mask wearing should be mandatory on campus in indoor environments, including corridors and in seminar situations. By contrast the university has chosen to hide behind shifting government guidelines on this issue and resists making mask wearing mandatory or even strongly recommending it as a civic obligation.

8. This motion recognises that there have been some positives to come out of the discussions, including the university making 2 meters the standard for Social Distancing and the University’s explicit recognition of the 1996 Employment Act Section 44 which allows employees to raise health and safety concerns without detriment to their job, salary or role, etc.

This branch believes:

1. That in an overall assessment of progress made, the return to work model delivered by the university does not command the confidence of this branch and constitutes an unacceptable public health risk to staff and students.
2. That with Covid-19 rates escalating nationally, pressure for a return to online delivery and further lockdown restrictions (on campus and/or nationally) are likely to become irresistible in the next few weeks.

This branch resolves:

1. To demand that Brunel University make on-line delivery of teaching in accordance with expert scientific opinion (e.g. Independent SAGE) the default position.
2. To demand that where it is impossible to deliver parts of the educational provision on-line, the university must arrange regular testing and tracing for students and staff and that wearing a mask in seminars and any indoor teaching scenarios is made compulsory.
3. To demand that no-one will be required to undertake on-campus face-to-face teaching if they express the wish not to do so.