We’re at the beginning of week 19 of working from home and we hope all of you are coping well.  Remember, if you have any problems or concerns or would just like to speak to someone, please do contact us. We’re happy to help and offer support.

As usual, here are some items which may be of interest from the past two weeks (apologies for missing last week but the branch was a bit thin on the ground):

  • Reward & Recognition ‘restart’

Grade 2-9 promotion applications must be in by 31 July; decisions will be received by 31 August
Annual Reward Scheme being finalised; Ready by 14 August; aim for payments in December pay, backdated to 1 August.

  • Confirmation & Clearing – latest

Currently in planning stage – latest thinking is a maximum 185 staff in levels 8-11 Worsley Building, which is being deep-cleansed, there will be one-way system, sanitisers, social distancing etc. Staff involved have completed a questionnaire about returning to campus – the replies are still being assessed. Where people express a desire not to come in, or an inability to, they won’t be forced, discussions will be had with managers and/or HR and alternative arrangements will be looked into.

Free car parking (until 1 Sept)

Work over 35 hours p/w will accrue OT/ time in lieu in the usual way

  • Return to campus

Travel elements of the planning – current proposal being discussed (ie. not finalised yet): **continue to work from home where possible** – remember this should still be the fundamental position for all of us.

Walk, run, cycle: negotiations with local retailers / suppliers about the possibility of discounts; some changes coming in the Cycle to Work scheme for Sept; showers / toilets cleaned more frequently

Public Transport: *follow government guidance*; the University can provide face covering for use on PT if required

Car Parking: ANPR frozen until 1 Sept – therefore parking is free – still need to register (as usual) if planning to be on campus any time

  • The VC (who finishes on Aug 31) met with the three campus unions on Wednesday 22 July to discuss current financial situation. He emphasised the seismic shift that the Covid lockdown has forced on Universities: their planning, finances (across the sector). While there are serious repercussions for Leeds as for every institution, he believes that we are “well-placed” to cope: the finances are basically sound. The focus now is on the re-opening campus, “flight path out of Covid”: the University should aim to recover quickly and to retain flexibility (guarding against ‘the unexpected’). Thus there have been large scale cut backs in all but essential expenditure, including pausing some construction work on campus. He wouldn’t comment on the University’s position on the ‘pay offer’ or on assurances of job security, except to say that sector-wide money is scarce and there may be difficult decisions ahead.
  • Sheffield University: has written to all staff (8,500) seeking a “voluntary” reduction in pay (10%) from entire workforce; “voluntary” reduction in hours; and an end to increments. They say if settlement cannot be reached they intend to ‘dismiss and re-hire’ to impose the worse conditions. This is a rich University, which has £1bn in reserves and yet is claiming the need to make £90m savings. The three unions on campus are working together to oppose. There will be messages of support etc on our Social Media accounts soon. Please show your support for colleagues at Sheffield – if this sort of opportunism goes unopposed at Sheffield, then how long will it be before other Universities start following suit?
  • Mandatory Face Masks on Campus: the first indication that UNISON and the other unions on campus received about this was through the all-staff email sent on Friday. We are seeking urgent clarification from the University about both the detail of this email and why there was no discussion with the unions in advance of its circulation.

For many of the reasons above, talk to your colleagues about joining a union, personal recommendation is a strong motivator for people to join: the more members we have the stronger our voice is.

We hope these emails are helpful and informative, but if you have any feedback on the content etc, please do let us know.  You can also find up-to-date news on our social media channels below.

In solidarity

Branch Committee
Web: http://www.leedsuni-unison.org.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/LeedsUniUnison/
Follow: @UoLUnison