No return to campus until it’s safe: Warwick UCU’s Five Red Lines

(for a PDF version click here)

Warwick UCU is participating in good faith with the Health and Safety Committee of the University of Warwick in the hope of securing the University’s commitment to ensuring that any return of staff and students to campus is safe, secure, and voluntary.

At present, while some members are reporting pressures to return faster than they feel comfortable with, we are hopeful that the University will respond to our efforts to ensure that the reopening of campus is in line with the latest Health and Safety guidance and the University’s statutory obligations for meaningful consultation with campus trades unions.

To this end, we have prepared the following ‘Red Lines’ that must not be crossed in order to ensure that the move to reopen campus occurs safely (1). These will be presented to the University’s Health and Safety Committee Meeting in June 2020.

Note: We recognise that the situation is fluid, and that there have been conflicting messages about the University’s plans, and so we reserve the right to update our Red Lines in accordance with new information or policy.

Warwick UCU’s Five Red Lines

1. Safe in society

  • New cases of COVID-19 need to be low and falling, with a sustained downward trend and confidence that all new cases can be identified and responded to promptly. This applies at regional level, with reduced cases and a falling reproduction number or R value (below 1), confirmed region by region before decisions regarding reopening of university campuses are considered.
  • In addition to routine testing, protocols are needed to ensure full coverage testing occurs promptly across university and other worksites following any case of Covid-19 being confirmed.


2. Safe on campus

  • The relevant authorities (UK; Scottish; Welsh; and Northern Irish) must have coherent plans which include parameters for appropriate physical distancing and safe levels of social mixing, applicable to HE campuses/workplaces as well as any travel required to and from them.
  • To help ensure physical distancing, all HE staff and students who can work and study from home should continue to do so.
  • In line with WHO guidance (2), masks must be mandatory for on campus interactions, with the University to supply these where necessary and to provide a means to enforce their use.


3. Safe university buildings

  • No teaching or other activity should take place indoors unless it is safe to do so in accordance with the state-of-the-art research regarding required levels of physical distancing and ventilation;
  • Proper physical distancing must be maintained for all campus-based activities;
  • Risk Assessments must be conducted with the recognised campus trades unions for all sites of work
  • Staff must be given workload recognition for the time taken to complete Risk Assessments to allow them to do this properly.


4. Safe for all colleagues

  • Equalities considerations given priority: the University must do more to protect the health and jobs of vulnerable workers or those who do not feel safe in coming to work;
  • To follow best practice in avoiding the risk of discrimination and stigmatisation, there must be no forced disclosure of pre-existing health conditions (3);
  • Equalities Impact Assessments must be completed to ensure that the differential risks relating to BAME staff, disabled staff, older staff, and staff in other categories who may be more vulnerable to Covid-19, are fully considered.

5. Safer communication

  • Full Transparency: Staff require clear and consistent communication now to allow for adequate and preparation for the next academic year;
  • Staff need to be involved in any return to work planning;
  • Workload: the University must better acknowledge the risks of increases to already burdensome workloads to avoid further negatively affecting the mental and physical health of staff members;
  • The University must communicate how any additional-workload burdens relating to the Covid-19 crisis will be addressed and compensated for.

Staff should be aware of Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 see here or here for more information and contact your local UCU representative if you have concerns about the safety of your workplace.


1 See also national UCU tests for safe returns to on-campus working https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/10935/UCU-HE-on-campus-return-tests/pdf/ucu_covid19_hetests.pdf

2 https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how- to-use-masks

3 See https://sites.google.com/view/accesscampusalliance

Applying to our Local Warwick UCU Solidarity Fund

The solidarity form is now available for STP. If you have any questions please contact treasurer@warwickucu.org.uk directly.

We strongly encourage you to apply for solidarity support so that your commitment to Industrial Action is sustainable. Warwick UCU pledge to treat Solidarity Fund applications by precariously and casually employed tutors/workers/staff, as well as those earning below £30k per annum, as a matter of priority.

For the full guidance on the fund, please see here. Once you have read this, please follow this link to make an application.

The form will gather non-anonymous data to be used by Warwick UCU to manage our local solidarity funds. We have committed to ensure all those who are most vulnerable will be supported, and then we will allocate funds on a sliding basis of need. You will need to include evidence of your expected earnings in the period for which you have withdrawn your labour. (Please check the guidance).

If you have not been on strike and/or are able to contribute to the local Solidarity Fund please donate here.

Solidarity Fund & Support

Warwick UCU Solidarity fund

We will support casual staff and workers to engage in Industrial Action

Please note the following update received from UCU National

Changes to the strike fund were agreed by HEC last week including increases in the limits claimable. For avoidance of doubt members who have already claimed in round one (November/December 2019) do not have to qualify again and will receive payment from day one of the forthcoming action.

Warwick UCU recognises that the prospect of lost income during Industrial Action – comprising both total withdrawal of labour and working to contract (or “Action Short of Strike” ASOS) – causes great concern for workers on hourly paid contracts and for casual staff on low pay and/or fixed term contracts.

Warwick UCU pledge to treat Solidarity Fund applications by precariously and casually employed tutors/workers/staff, as well as those earning below £30k per annum, as a matter of priority. Warwick UCU explicitly supports members on Tier 4 and Tier 2 visas, as well as UK and EU nationals, in their applications to the Solidarity Fund. It is with regret that we can offer support only to those on Warwick University contracts, not those on agency contracts, such as Unitemps.

STP/hourly paid workers, fixed term staff (and those earning below £30k per annum), will be able to claim lost income of up to £75 per day (or the equivalent thereof where daily rates do not apply, such as for members on STP contracts) from day one of strike action, as a considerable improvement compared to last year’s arrangements. During the last period of Industrial Action, Warwick UCU was able to refund all applications in a swift manner and we aim to do the same this year, though our exact capacities will depend on the number of applications and donations to the fund.

For STP / casualised, due to the precarious nature of the role and as we are aware of the financial knife-edge on which many casual staff Warwick UCU Solidarity Fund applications, we will require a minimum of evidence to validate the application such as a previous payslip and a screenshot of the last full week of teaching hours on the STP online form. Warwick UCU pledge to treat applications by casual and precarious members with high priority and to authorise approved high priority payments asap.

The Warwick UCU Solidarity Fund for casual members and those earning below 30k pa is capped at £225. Additional lost income should be applied for form the National Fighting Fund. UCU National also pledge to prioritise casual and precarious members but encourage all UCU members to submit a claim. UCU National have also increased the staffing levels to be able to swiftly authorise claims. Staff will be seeking to validate, rather than disprove, claims and will require minimum evidence for those on highly precarious and hourly-paid and year-hours contracts.

Salaried Staff

Warwick UCU also support applications to the Solidarity Fund from members on secure and permanent contracts – you must provide your payslip when deductions have been made to qualify. Priority will be given to those on lower annual incomes and with support and/or care commitments in their household, as well as those households where participants in this Industrial Action are the sole earner or where both earners are participating. These members can apply to the local Solidarity Fund for the first day of Industrial Action which is not covered by the National Strike Fund.

Warwick UCU calls on all members to apply to the local Solidarity Fund primarily where precarious work and pay conditions exist and swift payments are essential to secure basic living costs. Other members should apply to the national strike fund first and can apply to the local strike fund to balance any short-comings afterwards.

Tier 2 and 4

Warwick UCU values all members and specifically recognises the risk taken by casual and precariously employed members, as well as members on Tier 4 and Tier 2 visas, who participate in Industrial Action. We commit to robustly and consistently support those members throughout.

This twitter thread provides some detailed recommendations for staff in this position.

UCU has published this article https://www.ucu.org.uk/heaction-migrantworkers.

Payment outline

Payments will be made in this order for as long as funds are available. Submissions will be processed as fast as possible. Those on STP/hourly pay will be given priority before casual staff on more secure income, who will be considered before securely employed staff.

    1. STPs/hourly paid workers will be able to claim up to £225 from the local Solidarity Fund and can claim any remaining loss of income from the National Strike Fund whose claim limit is £1100*.
      Evidence required for the local Solidarity Fund: Screenshots of timesheet(s) from a regular working week & screenshot of contract(s). National will no longer require payslips in addition.
      *For Spring 2020, 14 day strikes.
    2. Staff (casualised) on incomes lower than £30k will be able to claim for the first £75 to £150 in lost income, i.e. the equivalent of the first 2 strike days and can claim any remaining loss of income from the National Strike Fund whose claim limit is £1100*.
      Evidence required for local Solidarity Fund: Screenshots of timesheet(s) from a regular working week & screenshot of contract(s).
    3. Staff (salaried) on incomes lower than £30k will be able to claim for the first £75 to £150 in lost income, i.e. the equivalent of the first 2 strike days and can claim any remaining loss of income from the National Strike Fund whose claim limit is £1100*.
      Evidence required for local Solidarity Fund: Payslip showing deductions.
    4. Those on more secure working contracts, i.e. permanent salaried staff are encouraged to apply to the National Strike Fund from day 3 of Industrial Action.
    5. Finally, the local Solidarity fund will consider applications by those earning above £30k and, where possible, will fund £150, i.e. the equivalent of the first three days of Industrial Action. The National Strike Fund can be applied to for the remaining loss of income up to a cap of £800 (spring 2020).

Please note that in the event that the Solidarity fund is running low, then we will pause payments, and wait for all applications to be submitted so that we can prioritise those most in need. In all cases, additional circumstances will be taken into consideration, such as studentships, bursaries, scholarships, and potential income unaffected by participation Industrial Action. Also taken into account are care commitments, children, and dependants in the household, sole earners, and households with two incomes affected by Industrial Action.

You must not claim more than lost earnings as this will draw the attention of HMRC.

STPs: Please remember that your contracts require you to declare your intention to participate in Industrial Action PRIOR to taking action but does not stipulate a specific timeframe. We encourage declaration on a day to day basis by email to STP@warwick.ac.uk with your HoD in CC.