Covid-19: Return to Work and Industrial Relations

Our disputes have not been resolved, though progress is being made on pensions and the non-pay issues. Even though we are confronting an emergency now, Covid-19 does not knock those issues off the table. 

Locally, there are two important issues to remember:

  1. Senior management’s antipathy and distrust of employees means that systems and policies have not been developed to support working from home, training has been limited and key resources (such as Academic Development) have been eliminated.
  2. We are still engaged in Action Short of Strike (ASOS). Senior management have made no attempt to ‘reach out’ to address the non-pay issues that would allow ASOS to be reconsidered.

Given the crisis, ASOS is essential to ensure that management understands they have failed to be reasonable. If nothing else, ASOS will help protect your physical and mental health as restrictions increase.

As you return to work (though mostly not to campus), we will need to work together to push senior management to implement more reasonable policy and practice, and to engage in meaningful dialog with all campus unions. We’ll provide some guidance on this early next week. The key though is there are very reasonable things that senior management is not doing and has not done. Local heads have power to influence this. When you return to work, make sure they hear your views.

Our heads of school, heads of departments, and professional services line managers need encouragement and support to pressure senior management to act responsibly towards students and staff. While we can be collegiate and supportive, this amounts to relatively little if senior management does not act in a more nurturing and inclusive manner.

We should also continue speaking to our colleagues at every opportunity. Colin Bailey’s blind refusal to acknowledge that the rest of the country is closing down, while he insists on business as usual, has been a cause of anxiety and confusion amongst staff and students. His refusal to include the campus unions on his COV-19 Crisis Group has shown an extraordinary level of contempt for the representatives of staff and students at Queen Mary. 

We cannot let management use the crisis to remove our pensions, increase precarity and workload, ignore equalities and make real cuts to salaries. We must continue to work together and build QMUCU, now well over 1000 strong, in the months to come.

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