Urgent Message: Reopening Services and Spaces from Monday

The following joint email from Unison, Unite and UCU was sent today (Friday, 15 May) to the Chair of Council and President and Principal.

Dear Lord Clement-Jones and Professor Bailey

The joint unions are concerned at senior management’s decision to reopen services and/or spaces on campus from Monday. Staff are being asked to return to campus from Monday and are deeply concerned.

The UK government has issued health and safety guidance, and guidance on transport, within the last week, following the Prime Minister’s announcement of the partial lifting of the lockdown.

Could you please tell us, what work has been undertaken to translate this guidance into guidance for staff and students?

As of writing, no guidance has been circulated to general staff, but many are aware of the email recently sent to students.

Whilst recognising the particular circumstances of Queen Mary (e.g., residences on campus), we want to ensure that staff and students have full confidence in the measures being taken to ensure their safety.

We note that this significant change in operations has happened without consultation with the unions and without a meeting of the Health and Safety Advisory Group.

The joint unions urge management to refrain from restarting services and reopening spaces until these matters have been:

agreed properly with unions;
considered by a properly constituted Health and Safety Advisory Group meeting;

Whenever there are changes, these need at least 2 weeks of preparation and consultation and at least one week of notice for staff.

It is our view that decisions to decrease restrictions on the access to facilities must be taken in a more cautious approach than the minimum standards set by the government and until it is absolutely clear that there is no risk of a second wave of infection.

We are of course happy to discuss this matter at the Covid-19 JCF on Wednesday. However, it is important that the relevant documents (e.g., risk assessments) have been provided in advance.

Yours sincerely

Queen Mary branches of Unison, Unite and the University and College Union.

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