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Higher education bosses must ‘raise their game’ against Covid, UCU demands

HIGHER education bosses must “raise their game” against Covid-19 by upgrading face masks, guaranteeing sick pay and protecting vulnerable staff, the University and College Union (UCU) demanded yesterday.

With the omicron variant of coronavirus continuing to spread, the union said employers should ensure that vulnerable people can work remotely and that higher-quality face masks are freely available for all on-campus staff. 

All indoor spaces must be monitored to ensure effective ventilation and air filtration units should be used where necessary, the UCU added.

Ensuring proper sick pay measures are in place, including for staff who are required to self-isolate or have caring responsibilities, are also vital, the union said.

It estimates that thousands of staff on insecure and zero-hour contracts in the sector do not have access to adequate sick pay, compelling them to work when it is not safe to do so.

The union’s call is part of updated guidance that aims to keep staff and students safe and minimise disruption to learning. 

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “The levels of disruption experienced during earlier parts of the pandemic can be avoided, but only if employers demonstrate high levels of vigilance and commit to going beyond government guidance.”

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