8th March Return: What’s the Rush?

UCU officers spent Friday afternoon meeting with CCCG senior management, making the case for slowing down the return to face-to-face teaching. Management refused to consider a return after Easter, arguing that they were constrained by government guidelines. 

UCU reps have spent many hours in meetings this week and raised numerous, detailed points relating to safety. Last Thursday’s cross-college cross-union meeting revealed the scale of fear and anger that members are feeling. 

WHAT’S THE RUSH?  

Government guidelines give room for us to make sure that the process of returning is safe and well-organised. 

We are extremely disappointed to have to report that there has been no movement to delay arrangements for those courses scheduled to return on the 8th. What was presented as a “proposal” has not been changed.  In many instances, important details as to how the return will be organised have not been provided so that there are still real concerns about the safety of the 16-18 courses. 

That said, there has been more flexibility in other areas, mainly for Adult provision. We will continue to lobby for safe procedures and delayed starts. Please let your local rep know your concerns. 

Personal Risk Assessments and a safe return to work

What we want

As previously reported, your union reps have been arguing for HR to make a commitment to protect the following groups of staff by allowing them to continue to work remotely until such time as their first vaccination has taken effect:

·       aged 60 or over

·       with a condition that puts you at higher risk (clinically vulnerable)

·       main carers for someone at high risk from coronavirus

Plus, additional consideration for those aged 50+ and people who share a household or caring responsibility with clinically vulnerable people.

Why would a caring employer put their staff at unnecessary risk when a much safer situation (ie post 1st vaccine) is in clear sight?  By the time we get to after the Easter break then most of these groups will have already had their first jab and, IF Johnson’s road map goes to plan, then our reduced ‘world’ will be a slightly safer place.

NB:  If you fall into one of the above groups, you may use the link below to get a vaccine appointment.  This can be an alternative to waiting for the notification from your GP.  It is possible that this link might not automatically work for some clinically vulnerable people, but we are reliably informed that this link is also working NOW for the next vaccination group – ie those aged 55+. Book a coronavirus vaccination

What HR say

HR have said they will NOT be taking a ‘blanket approach’.  Anyone who has any concerns should raise them with their Line Manager.  If appropriate mitigation arrangements cannot be agreed with LM then these concerns will be passed up to the local HR Business Partner (for WKC, this is Ollia Alexis).

What happens next

We urge you to complete the new Risk Assessment form.  Log all your concerns on the form (in the Discussions box).  Complete again and resubmit the form if your concerns have ‘changed’.

Ask (on the form) to be allowed to remain working from home until your first vaccine takes effect – or whatever your own conditions for return to work might be.

Do not agree to anything you don’t want to agree with.

We also advise members to consider doing an online risk assessment if they have reason to believe:

  1. Their rooms or work patterns have been changed since they last completed a risk assessment
  2. Their personal circumstances have changed (and also including for example circumstances of partners or other family members who are shielding. Remember that the list of those shielding has been increased).  
  3. They have been asked to come in when they are not required for face-to-face interactions. 

If you complete a risk assessment, you should not return to the building until your manager has responded to it. If there is disagreement, you should contact HR and your local UCU rep.

 Those who are CEV are not required to return before 29 March at the earliest.

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