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July, 2019:

Health and Safety: heatwave advice


Today may be the hottest day ever recorded in the UK and bad as it might be outside, it’s even worse inside.

High temperatures at work

In the absence of any well-publicized advice from our employer on how to deal with high temperatures and humidity at work, the advice from the Health and Safety Executive is worth a look:

  •  add or remove layers of clothing depending on how hot or cold you are
  •  use a desk or pedestal fan to increase air movement
  •  use window blinds (if available) to cut down on the heating effects of the sun
  •  in warm situations, drink plenty of water (avoid caffeinated or carbonated drinks)
  •  if possible, work away from direct sunlight or sources of radiant heat
  •  take regular breaks to cool down in warm situations and heat up in cold situations
  •  raise the issue with your managers or, if you can, with your union or other workplace representatives

Go to the library

The University Librarian advises that:

… if it suits, colleagues are always very welcome to work in the Library – it is quiet and relatively cool as a building and open for all to use, with fixed PCs as well as wifi/power etc. (no need for cards at this time of year).

We now allow coffee and tea into the building, if they are in reusable cups, for those who prefer to work with caffeine.

TUC campaign

Given the effects of climate change, high temperatures in workplaces will only become worse for the foreseeable future. The TUC is campaigning on introducing regulations on high temperatures at work, which might at least give us the status of a chicken in a truck.

Your legal responsibility

In law (Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974), you are responsible for looking after yourself:

It shall be the duty of every employee while at work—

(a)to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work; and

If you believe that your working conditions are not safe, get in touch with a union representative.

Our employer’s responsibility

In the same legislation, our employer is responsible for making it possible for us to look after ourselves:

(1) It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.

(2)Without prejudice to the generality of an employer’s duty under the preceding subsection, the matters to which that duty extends include in particular—

(e)the provision and maintenance of a working environment for his employees that is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe, without risks to health, and adequate as regards facilities and arrangements for their welfare at work.

UCU Bath Branch Meeting 12 July 2019

Members are encouraged to attend the upcoming branch meeting, on Friday the 12th of Jul AT 13:15-14:00 in 1E 2.4.

We recognise, as a committee, that this not a great time of year to hold a branch meeting. It is necessary, however, as there is an issue related to the local subs, which requires agreement.

It also offers an opportunity to update members on several ongoing campaigns and receive your comments and feedback on next stages.

To emphasise the importance of the meeting and get everyone up to speed, a brief outline of what the proposed agenda covers:

Anti-casualisation Negotiations: identifying areas for action on Fixed Term Contracts

As members are aware from previous correspondences and meetings, the ongoing anti-casualisation negotiations have up until this point been focused on introducing secure, employee contracts for our General/Graduate Teaching Fellows and hourly-paid teaching fellows. While these negotiations have not yet concluded, we are also focusing now on the issue of fixed-term contracts.

In the Statement of Intent agreed with the University, it was agreed to a commitment to reducing casualisation by “avoiding the use of casual worker contracts or other insecure forms of employment for delivering and supporting the core business of teaching, research and assessment”, with further recognition that “Fixed-term engagements and hourly paid contracts are appropriate in certain circumstances but have less security than open-ended contracts.” Fixed-term contracts were thus accepted as a form of insecure employment, covered by the anti-casualisation negotiations, albeit with recognition that there are circumstances in which their use is appropriate.

At the recent JACNC meeting, where the issue of how we could move forward on this issue was discussed, agreement was reached to identify areas for progress, and that the union would therefore consult with members to identify areas for action.

This is a call, therefore, for members on fixed-terms contracts to engage with your union reps to identify these areas for action, within the scope of the Statement of Intent.

At the branch meeting it would be valuable to hear initial feedback with an idea to collecting a representative outline of members views that we can take back to management. If you cannot make the meeting and wish to contribute your thoughts, please drop me an email in reply to this one, and I will pull together a list for future organisation.

Update on Professorial Recognition

Members of the Professoriate recently received an email from our Hartmut Logemann, our Professors Rep, providing an update on the current situation moving forward. This is an opportunity to answer any questions and provide additional details.

Refugee Scholarship and Local Subs

As highlighted at the email outset, this issue needs to be agreed at this meeting and it is therefore vital that we be quorate. At the AGM it was proposed that the Bath UCU branch fund refugee scholarships on an ongoing basis, through a small addition to local subscriptions designed to raise £7,500 per year, with the University matching this funding. The AGM agreed support in principle for the proposal, dependent upon a vote in favour of the required increase to the subscription. The Treasurer has now formally calculated the required increases. These now need to be discussed and voted upon.

AOB: Pensions, Workload, Health and Safety, Gender Pay Gap, you name it.

While keen to end on time while providing time for discussion on the three key issues listed, there are many significant issues on campus and nationally that I know members are following, directly affected by, and may wish to raise questions and receive updates, where available, from branch officers and reps. This is also an opportunity to do so.