Prior to the last members meeting, UNISON Branch stewards were already engaged in discussions about return to campus with management and the meeting timed well to enable input from all members present – those with concerns and those who feel okay about it.  Further meetings with management have taken your feedback to the highest levels of safety management and HR.

Our focus is those who are vulnerable – there will be some people unable to be vaccinated and there will be others who are returning but live with vulnerable people or are vulnerable themself.  Some people may suffer severe anxiety and a return may exacerbate this. For others a return poses no concerns at all and may be welcomed.The potential lifting of restrictions may have changed some staff views.

Our safety reps want you to know that having two jabs of the vaccine, whichever vaccine, is a good control measure.  Social distancing and face covers were the best way to deal with a situation where no-one was vaccinated.

However, we all knew getting everyone vaccinated, which greatly limits the person’s chances of catching covid let alone developing worse symptoms, could not have happened for everyone who works here by 19th July.  And for some not at all, at any point.   We pushed not to stop social distancing and face covers overnight, but for a phased withdrawal of those two control measures where other controls like vaccinations can replace them, combined with honest engagement with all staff returning, and a plan for those still vulnerable who cannot be vaccinated.

You’ll have seen from management guidance documents or university emails UNISON and the Campus Trade Unions were able to work with HR and safety teams on this.  We still are. Behind those emails and headlines are hours of work and many meetings.  As soon as we had worked through the implications for 19th July, we moved straight onto dialogue about return to teaching and new student intake with the implications for front line staff, teaching support, reception areas. We’re on site inspecting areas on campus.

Dialogue is ongoing so please monitor university comms and weekly emails.  And please contact our Unison branch office for any concerns.

Please note that the idea of return to campus and also hybrid working are two separate issues that just happen to coincide for timing of the pilot…Return to campus is always about safety and safe working environment.  Hybrid working is a separate process relating to a better way of working for us all, better options for us all.