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In-Person Teaching during COVID: Could Your Lecturer End Up Going on Strike?

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Two weeks ago the University and College Union (UCU) and the National Union of Students (NUS) made a joint statement to pressure the government and university bosses into taking steps to fight COVID-19.

They called for:

  • A national test and trace system for Universities
  • A safe way for students to leave campus if they need to
  • No financial consequences for students who decide to leave their accommodation, whether to defer or drop out
  • Online learning wherever possible
  • Funding for universities to help them deal with additional expenses brought on by COVID-19

Loughborough Students’ Union is not a member of the NUS, and LSU has not released any information on their stance with Loughborough University.

Whilst the National UCU has not balloted its members on strike action if universities refuse to hold online-only learning – many local UCU branches including Northumbria and Warwick have voted (or are currently voting) on strike action.

When are the strikes likely to happen?

If the ballots are successful, there could be strike action between January and June 2021, however each local UCU branch is considering different dates.

What about Loughborough?

Loughborough UCU (LUCU) have not held a ballot, and in a statement to Label have no intention to unless a national ballot is held:

However, they have said that “As a branch, we are also in solidarity with other UCU branches across the sector which have taken decisions that they believe necessary to ensure the safety and well-being on their campuses”.

The national UCU have called for universities to “shut down their core functions” most notably “those which involve face-to-face interaction”.

Are we likely to see strikes from the UCU anytime soon?

It’s not certain, the national UCU have been very clear that they oppose the return to face-to-face learning whilst COVID-19 is still at large, and with the increase in case numbers across UK campuses, including Loughborough, unless universities change their stances on in-person teaching, there may well be calls for the UCU to hold a national ballot.

For now, at least, the local UCU stands with the University on how they are dealing with COVID-19 despite Loughborough University being one of the highest MSOAs in the country for cases.

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LSU Media Vice Chair 2020-21 LSU Media Chair 2019-20 Hall Media Coordinator 2018-19

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