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Branch Meeting – Friday 24 June at 3:00 pm 

Your local branch is holding a meeting for members via TEAMS on Friday 24 June at 3:00 pm.  Items for discussion and the link will be sent to members via a newsletter.

Four Fights/USS Disputes

Donate to the fighting fund

Please support your colleagues.

UCU uses its fighting fund to support members involved in disputes, including the provision of strike pay where appropriate.

UCU congress has recognised the current economic situation means it likely there will be a number of disputes to save jobs and services and protect conditions. It therefore recommended that members who could afford to do so should make an annual donation to the fighting fund to support others.

Congress suggested that an appropriate donation would be £25, depending upon members’ circumstances, but any donation to support colleagues in struggle is greatly appreciated and will be used directly to help members on strike.

How to donate

  • Make a direct bank transfer, or set up a regular standing order, to*:
    Account name: UCU Fighting Fund
    Sort code: 60-83-01
    Account no: 20179432
    Reference: ‘Fighting Fund Voluntary Levy’
  • Securely online via PayPal**:
    Amount: £     
  • or send a cheque (payable to ‘University and College Union’) to:
    Fighting Fund donation
    Finance Dept
    University and College Union
    Carlow Street
    London
    NW1 7LH

Please, show your support.

Thank you.

Claim Your Tax Reliefs

There are several tax relief schemes that are likely to be of benefit to some members.  The paragraphs below introduce two schemes that you could consider.

Working From Home Tax Relief
If you have worked from home due to Covid, even for only one day this year, then you can claim a tax relief worth up to £125.  Some members have done this and report that the process takes about 10 minutes and is easy, especially if you already have a Government Gateway account.  This is an article about the tax relief and this is a link to the HMRC site to make the claim. 

Transfer Tax Free Allowance to a Partner

The marriage Allowance applies to married couples or those in civil partnerships.  If one partner earns less than their tax free personal allowance (about £12500 this year depending on circumstances) then they may be able to transfer some of their personal allowance to their partner.  This can save the partner up to £250 a year.  It is easy to apply here .

 

Ballot Results on Return to Campus Motion

Dear Members,

at the last informal Branch meeting a motion was drafted and an online ballot was held to determine its level of support from members.  The motion was:

Hull UCU is adopting the National UCU position: no default face-to-face teaching in line with scientific advice from Independent SAGE and SAGE recommendations. UCU Hull supports a default position that all HE teaching provision, consistently across all Faculties, should be through online/remote means except where this is practically impossible (e.g. for laboratory-based teaching and courses with practical elements such as some courses in the arts, the sciences, and clinical courses). Where face-to-face teaching is unavoidable, measures should be in place to create Covid-safe university settings through the measures set out in the Independent SAGE and SAGE reports and summarised in UCU’s (national) position statement.
The results of the ballot are as follow – 96 members voted (not bad considering workload and strain members are under)
Do you support this motion?
Yes = 85 votes (89%) of voters
No = 11 votes (11%)

Notice of Hull Branch UCU Annual General Meeting

Dear UCU Member
 
Your local branch of UCU will be holding its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 11th November at 2.00 pm via Zoom.  The agenda and draft minutes of the last AGM, held on the 4/12/19, are attached for your information.   A Zoom link for the AGM will be sent to you nearer the time.
  
CALL FOR NOMINATIONS
 
This e-mail is also a call for nominations for Officer and Committee Members to the following posts;
 
President
Vice President
Treasurer
Secretary
Membership Secretary
Equality Officer
Anti-Casualisation Officer
Campaigns Officer
Committee Members (x 10 positions)
 
A copy of the branch rules (attached) gives a brief description of the above posts and what is expected in the role.  The current Committee strongly encourages members from a wide range of roles and departments to put themselves forward for posts.  This is essential for the effectiveness of your union Branch.
 
If you wish to stand for any of the above posts, please email Vicky Cattini (victoria.cattini@hull.ac.uk) stating the post you wish to stand for.    You will need to find two UCU members willing to support your nomination.  CC these two members into your nomination email.   The closing date for nominations is 12 noon on Wednesday 14th October 2020.  

 
It is proposed that if any of the posts have more than one nomination, a ballot will take place.  Those applying will be notified and will be given the opportunity to submit a 450 word document explaining why they wish to stand for the post and this will be sent to members as part of the voting process.  The results of the ballot will be announced at the AGM.
 
If members wish to put forward any motions for the AGM please can you send them to Kevin Paulson, Branch Secretary, at K.S.Paulson@associate.hull.ac.uk stating your name and the name of your seconder, again by 12 noon on Wednesday 14th October 2020.
 
 
Kind regards
 
Vicky 
 
Vicky Cattini
Branch Administrator – 
UCU

Return to Campus

This newsletter contains specific guidance for members on ‘what to do’ in the current circumstances as campus continues to open and as teaching starts. It is important to note that none of the actions suggested imply any criticism of individuals involved in work associated with the University’s response to COVID.

However, nationally and locally (and after a very long summer of discussions) UCU representatives do not agree with the sector wide decision to re-open campus to the extent that is occurring. UCU believes that the risks associated with COVID-19 are such that the default should be that people continue to work on-line, wherever possible. UCU believe that where the default is not applied it should only be in conditions where there is:

  • An individualised risk assessment for each individual conducted by a competent and fully trained individual. Risk assessment should include a mental health/stress risk assessment (as appropriate) as well as a physical health risk assessment. This individual risk assessment should be conducted in addition to the buildings and spaces risk assessments which are generic.
  • A detailed and formalised COVID specific code of behaviour for everyone who attends campus.
  • Fully informed consent of the individual being asked (or asking) to work on campus following their full involvement, particularly in review of their own individual risk assessment, and following face to face conversations with their line manager.
  • Specific protocols, in detail, for what to do if things go wrong or if you have concerns.
  • An active policy of ‘no detriment’ for any individual choosing to continue to work safely away from campus following their fully informed involvement in the above process of assessment.

We do not believe these conditions are currently being met at the University for everyone.

Consequently, we are issuing the following advice for each individual member.

Do not refuse to attend work if directed to do so by your line manager. To refuse to attend work while you are otherwise fit for work is technically a breach of contract.

If you are asked to work on campus and do not think you should be on campus because of the risk to your health or anyone else’s, then:

  1. Before attending campus, review the template letters produced by UCU which can be found here. Decide which letter is most applicable to your situation.
  2. Complete the template letter as it applies to your situation and to the extent you can.
  3. Contact Victoria Cattini (Victoria.Cattini@hull.ac.uk) and ask for a UCU caseworker to assist you to complete the form, if you feel it is necessary. Vicky will put you in touch with a caseworker. Please bear in mind that the volume of cases at present for our five caseworkers is considerable so if you can complete the form without help please do so.
  4. Complete the form and send to your line manager. Copy in your assigned caseworker or send the completed form to Victoria.Cattini@hull.ac.uk
  5. If you return to campus and are involved in, or informed of, an unsafe situation or incident go to here and complete a UCU report on the incident. You should also report the situation (as a legal duty) through University official reporting mechanisms.

Further information and notes

  1. You do have a right to refuse to work in unsafe conditions and UCU will support you in maintenance of that legal right if necessary. But like so much UK employment law, that right effectively applies only after the fact and specifically. In simple terms, and in the current context, you have to be imminently presented with a specific unsafe working environment and where the risk to you and others is apparent and immediate before Section 44 of the Health and Safety at Work act (1974) would apply.
  2. If you encounter a situation that you consider unsafe, the best advice we are able to give at the moment is to remove or distance yourself from the situation, inform the nearest available line manager but do not leave campus until you were due to. We have been asking the ‘what do I do if…?’ question over summer and still have no answer to this question unfortunately so this is the best advice we can give, pending some sort of clear protocols from the University.
  3. We would ask members to remember that line managers (Departmental heads, FAMs, Deans and others) and other colleagues and comrades are also in a very difficult and stressful situation at this time and that generally speaking university wide strategic and operational decisions are made at an institutional level.

Closing notes:

Neither UCU representatives nor ‘the campus trade unions’ have made formal agreements about any aspect of the remobilization of campus with the University of Hull management. We have been involved in collegiate and often productive, discussions or consultations over the summer period about the University’s response to the global pandemic. [See https://share.hull.ac.uk/Services/HR/SitePages/Employee%20Relations%20(Trade%20Unions).aspx for a link to minutes from the UJCC Sub COVID meetings so you can read the representations that have been made.]  In these meetings, individual managers we have worked with have been open and transparent about planning and work that has been occurring, for example inviting trade union representatives to inspect work conducted or sharing risk assessments for buildings. This collegiate approach is why none of our advice constitutes a criticism of individuals who have worked on COVID related safety measures.

But trade unions do not make strategic or University wide strategic or operational decisions or get a vote on these decisions. So, while we recognise the work that has occurred locally and at the ‘sharp end’ across campus, we do not think that the remobilization of campus, as a strategic decision, can protect everyone (staff and students) as fully as we believe necessary.  We believe a much more gradual, piloted approach – based more fully on precautionary principles – would have been appropriate. Furthermore, we believe a gradual, piloted approach based on individual consent and no detriment remains possible and desirable. In current circumstances where such an approach has now more or less been ruled out, the advice in this newsletter represents our recommendations for what members can do to protect their own, and other’s safety.

Martin Nickson

Hull UCU Committee

Risk Assessments

University management has belatedly decided not to perform personal risk assessments for staff returning to campus.  Regional UCU has adapted a HSE risk assessment for you to use.  You can complete Y H Region Personal Risk Assessment Pro Forma (3) and use it in discussions with your line manager.

Petition for sweatshop-free ICT at the University

Staff and students at universities across the North East and Midlands are demanding that their electronics supplier go #SweatshopFree. Take action against supply chains injustice NOW by signing the petition! Follow @Sweatshop Free – People & Planet for updates

https://tinyurl.com/y2fsrugq

Meeting on Health and Safety and Return to Campus

There will be a meeting for on Friday 11 September to discuss the Health & Safety concerns raised by members. We will send out a newsletter on Tuesday with the exact time (probably around lunchtime) and a Zoom link.

We do not have all the answers as Estates and various managers are still working on preparing the campus for the return of staff and students.  We were informed by the Director of Estates in a meeting this week that the ventilation systems of all the buildings have been adjusted according to guidelines provided by https://www.cibse.org/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-covid-19-and-hvac-systems

An individual risk assessment form is being developed by Occupational Health and Health and Safety and will be made available once the details are finalized. UCU has not been consulted on this document.

Two main issues are becoming apparent; in order to protect our members’ health, safety and wellbeing we will need members to report problems around compliance with risk mitigation measures on campus, and members will need to keep track of the amount of time they are spending on teaching, teaching related activities and supervision.

If you would like more information about UCU’s national position on opening universities, there is a webinar discussion with Jo Grady, and scientists from Independent Sage here https://fundthefuture.org.uk/event/is-it-safe-to-reopen/

SAGE and iSAGE reports on re-opening HE

In the last few weeks, both SAGE and iSAGE have released reports stressing the risk of increased Covid transmission linked to re-opening university campuses:

SAGE Report,

iSAGE Report.

Yesterday, the government reported ~3,000 new cases, and that a large proportion of the cases involved young people.  Both management and the UCU need to base their return-to-campus decisions around the science in these reports.

Kevin.