August. 2020.

Feels like you’ve got a lot more work this year than last?  Is there no time at all left for research?

It’s not just you….

Many members will be receiving their workload allocations in these days and weeks and will be asked to do more this year than lasteven when personal circumstances will be more difficult, promotions are frozen and strike pay is being deducted.

Your extra workload is not only because of all of the additional work of preparing online teaching, but also because Senior Management introduced ‘Staff Cost Control Measures’ in May that stipulated:

  • A freeze on hiring of ALs
  • Non-renewal of Fixed Term Contracts
  • No replacement posts for those who have left or taken Voluntary Severance
  • That staff could reduce their hours, with no indication of who would pick up the work
  • Cancellation of Dedicated Research Time (DRT) to free up staff time to cover the work of ALs and other staff not re-hired or replaced.

While a few contracts have been renewed over the summer, the vast majority of the 472 ending still have not. 

This means that if you are being asked to work more this year than last, it is very likely that you will be covering the work of a member of staff who has been made redundant, an AL who has not been rehired, or a colleague who has left and not been replaced.  It’s not ok. 

Reducing the workforce has been part of Senior Management’s plan since well before the Covid crisis. Reducing the workforce happens at the expense of casualised staff who will continue to act as exploited balance sheet buffers, at the expense ofpermanent staff members’ health, and at the expense of our students’ education

We all know that since the covid crisis started our work has not gone away (in fact it has increased); that student numbers are now relatively stable – and that it takes just as long to prepare a lecture for 30 students as it does for 40! We also know that research is the first thing to fall away when demands of teaching and administration are high. 

Preparing online teaching to a high standard takes a vast amount of time, and under an amber scenario, some staff might be asked to duplicate whole areas of on-line and in person teaching. These huge increases in workload are unacceptable. 

If we vote for Action Short of Strike, for example we can ‘work to rule’ and refuse all additional duties and workload. Ballots take time however, so here is:

What you can do now:

Don’t accept the additional workload without question. 

Remember if you do the work, it is an implicit acceptance of the workload increase. 

You can object to extra workload right now:

Don’t accept the additional workload without objection. 

Remember if you do the work, it is an implicit acceptance of the workload increase. 

  1. Sign and email ‘I Object’ a GUCU Workload Pledge >here(cc: your line manager + This tells your manager, your colleagues and former colleagues that you object to being asked to do even more work than before, and that you do not intend to cover the work of colleagues who have been made redundant or who have not been replaced. This letter provides an Equalities basis to your objection. 
  1. Sign and email a Health & Safety Response >here (cc: your line manager + UCU H&S officer via to object to additional workload on Health & Safety grounds. This will alert your line manager to the Health and Safety red flag on workload and workplace stress, log the issue with the union, and allow the request for additional work to be fully examined. This letter provides a Health & Safety basis to your objection. 
  1. If you are part time, work out exactly what your hours are, log your hours, and do not work over them.
  1. If you are full time, your contract will be less clear, but you must not exceed 48hrs per week (which is the Working Time Regulations
  1. You can also ask your line manager for a meeting to discuss your workload and work-related stress using the HSE Talking Toolkit
  1. Come to GUCU’s Know Your Rights Health & Safety Workshop on Thursday 3 Sept, 10-12noon to learn more about how to challenge excessive workloads. Registration will open tomorrow.

For advice on what to do at any time, check in with GUCU’s “I Object – Say No List”

Good luck! And keep us posted. Contact your health and safety officers, cc

GUCU Exec.