UNISON is deeply concerned that the management of the University appears currently to be prioritising who it can keep on campus rather than following the central tenet of the lockdown imposed by national government on Monday, 4th January, which was that everyone should stay at home unless absolutely unavoidable. We remind the University that it has a civic duty which broader than its ‘duty’ as a business, central to that duty at the moment is to help protect the NHS in whatever way it can.

There was a senior ICU consultant on R4 just a few days ago saying that the country really needs to understand that if people do not adhere to what the government has said, and stay home unless absolutely essential, then the NHS will soon face a “catastrophic failure.”

The government has laid out which areas of teaching are exempt from the call for on-line only teaching – and they are a limited number.

This is a worse situation than March 2020, the strain of the virus is far more easily transmissible, and NHS bed occupancy far outstrips the situation last spring: latest estimates are that about 2% of the population is currently infected (translating to just shy of 200 University staff plus around 700 students, if the campus were back to its full compliment).

With this in mind we reconfirm our recent call to the university to cease all but the essential work on campus, to instruct all but essential workers to stay at home for the immediate future, to instigate furlough and shielding measures to replicate what was put in place last March.

Once we have moved to this position, ensuring the safety of as many colleagues and students as possible, we can then settle into the conversations around the details of what other measures should be in place for the coming weeks: we will send our thoughts under a separate cover. We remind you that yesterday in Parliament the Prime Minister refused to consider a time period short of the 31 March this year for the cessation of lock down measures. It is our view that the university should get ahead of this, it should make plans to take us through to Easter, at least by doing so, it can to remove uncertainty and anxiety from staff and students.