December branch news: Industrial action updates, working from home, and a much needed break is nigh

Dear members,

Happy Monday. This month’s branch news is fairly brief, but contains a number of important updates on our ongoing industrial action, the recent changes in DfE guidance on working from home, and a small bit of holiday cheer.

Industrial action updates

Our Industrial Action Guidance Document has now been updated to include information on:

    How to apply to the central UCU fighting fund and the local SUCU hardship fund.
    How supporters can donate to both of these funds. Particularly if you know any individuals or organisations outside of UKHE who might be willing to donate, please pass this information on to them!

At our branch meeting on the Friday of strike action, we discussed ways to keep our campaign visible, and make the action short of a strike that we are taking a collective, supportive action. One of the ideas that was raised was to hold regular, informal meet-ups for members of the branch to talk to each other about how ASOS is going, share problems, brainstorm solutions, and generally support each other. These “industrial action meet-ups” are separate from formal branch meetings, and won’t have any agenda. We are going to try to hold these meetings every couple of weeks, and have scheduled our first one for Thursday, 16 December at 11:30am. Given the new working from home guidance, this meeting will be entirely online. You can sign up to attend here.

One of our previous branch members who is now active in another branch has written a powerful reflection on our recent round of strike action, and a reminder of what we’re fighting for: an education sector that is once again transformative, instead of mired in metrics, competition, and destructively poor financial planning.

Working from home

In line with recently announced new policies regarding Covid-19, the DfE has published guidance for higher education institutions with recommendations for working from home. You may have seen the email from management late on Friday which stated that

“There are exceptions to this rule in place for universities to allow us to continue in person learning and teaching, other essential student focused activity, and research and innovation related activities. Therefore, in line with Department for Education guidance, we will continue to deliver teaching, student support and research activity on campus, including via the provision of library and study space.”

We want to continue to stress that staff and student health is of the highest priority, and that both groups have rights under Health and Safety law. If you feel that you are being asked to work on campus in a way that counteracts the DfE guidelines, or that places your health directly at risk, we encourage you to raise these concerns with your line manager. In particular, we know that ventilation continues to be an issue in campus workspaces. If you have reason to believe that the ventilation in your work or teaching space is placing you and/or your students at risk, please do remember the ‘Protocol for staff to remove themselves from a situation of serious and imminent danger’. As always, you can also contact us at for support.

Holiday Cheer

It is once again December, and that means it is time for our annual reminder of (in our humble opinion) the finest trade union parody song ever made, featuring a huge number of our members. Still relevant three years later! We will accept all nominations to the Top of the Pops competition with grace and humility.