The RHUL UCU Branch Officers were dismayed to receive the following letter from Katie Normington on behalf of our Senior Management Team earlier this week. This was the formal reply to our request that they follow other top universities in scrapping wage deductions for strikers, due to the massive pressure on these staff to move all work on-line.
It is disappointing to be accused of unnecessary collation of COVID-19 and our dispute, when our members chose to cancel their last two strike dates due to the need to support students exacerbated by the pandemic crisis. It causes us further dismay that our offer to use our anti-casualisation working group to consider how best to support our casual and fixed-term colleagues was ignored. We believe these staff are valuable and must be protected wherever possible. In addition, both the anti-casualisation and equalities working groups have been suspended indefinitely, with no response to our request for future dates.
And so, members, despite the initial gains from our dispute, we are now back to square one. You might want to square that with our mandate to continue ASoS until late April.
Posted on behalf of RHUL UCU Branch Officers
I write in your capacity as UCU branch Chair following a request from Donna Brown that we restate salaries that were deducted for participation in the recent industrial action.
We have considered this request at Principal’s Advisory Group today.
We are very grateful to your members, and in particular to members of the committee, who have worked over the last ten days to ensure that we were able to deliver the last week of term online. We have been able to agree with committee members vital policies and are grateful for all the work that has gone into adapting our business.
However, we do not believe that the issues of industrial action and the response to Coronavirus should be conflated. It remains that students lost a large proportion of teaching which has not and will not be made up. It is also the case that many assessments have already been changed and deadlines extended because of industrial action, and that has made it more difficult for us to mitigate against Coronavirus.
In making our decision we have considered that duties have still not been delivered and that many colleagues, some UCU members, took a very difficult personal decision not to take strike action this time and often picked up more duties around student advising and the like. It would be particularly unfair on those colleagues to have undertaken these additional support tasks and now to find the ‘slate wiped clean’ as it were.
This will continue to be a difficult time for both individuals, students and the College. As I said, we do not believe it is right to inflate Industrial Action and the response to Covid-19. We continue to be grateful to colleagues who are working under difficult circumstances. it is important that we continue to work together at this time in order to adapt to the changed delivery system we find ourselves needing, and I look forward to further work with the UCU officers in the coming weeks.
Professor Katie Normington
Deputy Principal (Academic)