There was a great response to the Covid Attitudes Survey which closed last week. Over 360 members of staff completed the survey, which makes it the largest exercise in gauging staff opinion since the start of the pandemic.
The results show widespread overwork, stress, fear, and lack of confidence in senior management. But while the survey reveals some worrying results, it also shows the remarkable unity and determination among staff for things to improve.
Building on this strength of feeling, the next step of the campaign to defend staff during the pandemic is the petition for a Covid payment of £200 for each member of staff before the end of the year.
This is the bare minimum owed to staff to reflect the overwork, the additional costs of working at home, and the risks taken by those working on campus during the pandemic so far. The Open University have just announced a £500 payment for ALL staff to show their appreciation. The survey results show that these pressures reflect the widespread experience of Queen Mary staff. It is time for senior management to do something to address them.
The aim is to have 500 members of staff sign the petition, and we will only release the signatory names when we reach that number. You can sign the petition and share this link to help reach this goal. All staff includes hourly-paid staff and staff on fixed-term contracts, including postgraduate researchers who, on top of teaching, also are under pressure to keep producing research ‘as normal’ on tight deadlines.
Stress and overwork
72% said they are working more hours since the start of the pandemic. Almost half (44%) say they are working significantly more hours. This is in a sector which already had a severe workload issue before the pandemic.
83% said they are facing increased stress and other adverse mental health effects since the start of the pandemic. Almost half (45%) say they are facing significantly more stress.
There was a clear association between those reporting increased workload and those reporting increased stress.
Views on Returning to Campus
72% feel either very or somewhat unsafe returning to campus. 44% say they feel very unsafe, 28% somewhat unsafe. 13% say they feel somewhat safe, and only 7% said they felt very safe.
86% agreed that no staff member should be forced to return to campus if they don’t believe it is safe. Only 4% said they disagreed.
72% support moving teaching and services online wherever possible. Only 13% said they disagreed. This is the UCU national position.
78% believe that face coverings should be mandatory in all indoor campus spaces, including teaching rooms and multi-occupancy offices. This is the QMUCU position.
Lack of confidence in management
Only 3% said they have full confidence in the management response to Covid. 11% said they were somewhat confident, 19% were neither confident nor unconfident, 39% said they had very little confidence, and 26% said they had no confidence at all.