There could be more strikes if unis can’t prove they’re safe, says the UCU

I’ve got a great feeling about this year

There could be more uni strikes unless unis can prove they’re COVID-safe for staff and students, the UCU has warned.

Ahead of students returning to uni, the union – which coordinated the previous waves of uni strikes – wants unis to do online-only teaching, and has said it could ballot members over strike action if unis can’t prove they’re safe.

“Workplaces have to be made safe before we can move to reopening of large-scale, face-to-face teaching,” Paul Bridge, UCU’s head of higher education, told The Sunday Times.

A report by SAGE, a group of scientific advisers to the government, has warned that outbreaks at uni risk students bringing the virus home with them at Christmas.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “This report is sobering reading and brings the dangers associated with reopening university campuses into sharp focus. It exposes how wrong it was to try and pretend this would be business as usual. The worry now is how ill-prepared the government and universities appear to be.

“We welcome the recommendations for better testing and tracing, and for universities to work with staff and students on guidance. This report adds further weight to our call that online teaching must be universities’ default position. What we really need now is a serious response from universities and government. The health of university staff, students and the wider community is too important to gamble with, this is not business as usual.”

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