COVID-19: GUCU Letter to SMT

Dear Frances Corner and SMT,

GUCU exec recognise the importance of reacting quickly and flexibly in light of the fastmoving developments of Covid-19.  We also recognise the pressures and complexities facing Senior Management Team and line managers at this time, and understand that changes are taking place on a day by day basis.  In order to be as effective as possible, the whole college community needs to work together.

GUCU exec is currently operating on the basis that the health and safety of all staff and the university community, and necessary measures this entails in relation to social distancing, are the number one priority. We note that a number of universities have already announced cancellation of classroom teaching, though for some this is delayed until the end of next week.

Guidance and measures we are seeking to develop with members in connection with all related aspects, including online teaching, are within a framework that is seeking to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected in tandem with our health and safety, and that is mindful of the range of equalities and caring issues many colleagues may have.  At this stage, we remain concerned about the safeguarding of residents and staff against COVID-19, and any visitors or additional contracted workers.

We will be following advice from UCU at a national level, and will keep you updated.

As a result of this, we strongly urge you to:

  • As a matter of urgency, reconsider your decision to keep the College open as normal and to maintain ‘in-person activities like teaching’
  • Include representatives from all unions in the emergency college level meeting, which we understand is taking place on Monday morning
  • Ensure all unions have representation on the Critical Incident Group, moving forward
  • assure staff that any precautionary measures (e.g. online teaching)which allow for social distancing are not taken as an explicit or implicit agreement to continuing with these measures after the Covid-19 crisis
  • Review the wording and instructions on Goldsmiths website – for example: ‘If medical advice is that a colleague should work in an alternative way – home working for example – then they will need to be able to provide evidence of this advice through a fit note.’  This is causing concern for staff who are unable to obtain a fit note due to their circumstances and/or restrictions placed on GPs and medical staff.  

    We look forward to a response from you. 

     Anna Grant & Amanda Kipling,  GUCU Health & Safety Officers on behalf of GUCU Exec.