Emergency Branch Motions on Health and Safety

Passed unanimously by 81 votes at GUCU branch meeting Weds 12 Jan 2022 

Branch Motion on Health and Safety (Covid-Omicron variant)

This Branch notes:

– that the Covid-19 pandemic continues to pose a serious threat to public health: for those infected, it can result in fatalities and long-term disability

– that the Omicron variant is a more transmissible form of the virus

– that the disease is airborne, transmitted by shared particles in the air when people gather

– that higher-grade face coverings (PPE grade FFP2 and FFP3) are the minimum personal mitigation proven to be effective 

– that the UK Government has failed to provide workplaces with equipment and funding to properly ventilate workspaces and filter the air

– that a large number of UK industries are advising employees to continue working from home; advice applied to non-student-facing staff at Goldsmiths

– that Goldsmiths Outbreak Prevention and Control Plan includes the Amber and Red scenarios for online teaching. 

– that the ‘peak’ of this outbreak is predicted to occur in mid-January, but may take longer if outbreaks in schools (primary and secondary) are exponential

– that major outbreaks are not only a hazard to physical health, but create organisational chaos and a mental health burden to staff and students, where reasonable and flexible options are not built-in

This branch demands:

– unless consistent, transparent ventilation readings of CO-2 800ppm or less are provided for a teaching venue while the room is occupied, any teaching should be delivered online (until the end of January, with a weekly review until Reading Week)

– that management look into acquiring HEPA filters, in line with UK Government recommendations

– that any face-to-face access to facilities is subject to a booking or click-and-collect system, where numbers are controlled

– that staff are supplied with FFP2 and FFP3 masks, by Goldsmiths

– that students are also supplied with FFP2 masks (not cloth face coverings)

– that any staff seeking to work online due to health concerns receive no detriment

– a prominent display of a case dashboard

This branch resolves:

– to act on the duty to protect members from physical and mental health hazards

– to advise management that only risk assessments that acknowledge the high level of transmissibility of this variant, are deemed by us, as suitable and sufficient

– to rely upon verifiable data relating to ventilation standards and to seek further reassurance as to high ventilation standards

Branch Motion on Health and Safety (Mental Health)

This Branch notes:

– Management’s failure to produce the results of a Wellbeing survey from 2020-2021 (promised for delivery in Autumn 2021)

– Management’s omission in not producing a risk assessment into the mental health impact of the Recovery Plan

– The mental health impact of Covid policies relating to teaching delivery and classroom / facilities precautions that have not been surveyed

This branch demands:

– To see the results of the Wellbeing survey 2020-21

– A survey querying the mental health and burnout quotient of staff in the recent past, within 14 days of this motion and results to be shared within 12 weeks

– A risk assessment of the mental health impact of the recovery plan within 14 days of this motion

– Any appropriate and relevant data on resignations by staff related to the Recovery Plan

This branch resolves:

– To investigate and pursue advice on the rights of the workforce to protection from mental health harms relating to both the Recovery Plan and Covid management.

Moved by Pamela K and Evan R – GUCU Health and Safety Officers