Over 500 Cardiff lecturers sign open letter to uni saying they’re at ‘risk of physical and mental injury’ over their workload
The letter was drafted following the suicide of business lecturer Malcom Anderson who was under pressure at work
Over 500 members of staff at Cardiff University have signed an open letter to Vice Chancellor Colin Riordan demanding action over their workload.
The letter was drafted by the Cardiff University branch of the University College Union after an inquest into the death of business lecturer Malcom Anderson heard that he’d been struggling in silence with his workload before he committed suicide in February.
The letter has 523 signatures so far. 88 per cent are from academics at the university, whilst 11 per cent are from administration staff and five per cent are from PhD students. The letter is still open for staff to add their signature.
The Union has addressed the letter to the University Vice Chanellor, members of the University Executive Board and Cardiff University Council, and claims that senior management have been aware for several years that staff are struggling with the pressure of increasing workload.
The letter reads: “We are acutely aware there are many others at serious risk of physical and mental injury. Simply, our workloads are too high across the board.
“Robust and meaningful action in respect of workload issues is required now. This is a crisis in the here and now and it must be addressed on a systemic level. It is within only your power to bring it back under control, and it is your responsibility to do so.
“We request that you provide a response to this letter detailing concrete steps you will take.”
Cardiff UCU spokesperson Dr Andy Williams said: “We’ve published this open letter because Cardiff University has a major problem with staff workload and mental health.
“Its own staff survey shows that only half of all staff can do their jobs without regularly working unreasonable hours; with only one in five not regularly doing unpaid overtime.
“All this has a real strain on our health. At Cardiff this has even been a factor in colleagues taking their own lives. But the university sticks its head in the sand. It points to inadequate workload models, and its counselling and ‘wellbeing’ provision, but these are just inadequate sticking plasters.
“It’s time we stood up to this toxic working culture for our own sakes, for the sakes of our students and families and for the sakes of our universities, too.”
In response to the UCU’s open letter, Cardiff University said: “Whilst we are aware of the open letter, to the best of our knowledge the university has yet to receive it formally. As soon as it is received, a response will be sent.
“However, what we can say is that we recognise that workload and wellbeing are extremely important issues.
“That’s why in 2014 we introduced a new workload policy. This policy is designed to help the university in working towards a systematic approach to workload allocation and to identify those members of staff who may be working to excess and take appropriate action.
“The policy enables staff in consultation with their line managers to monitor and adjust workloads on a case-by-case basis. This ensures that a proper account can be taken of individual factors and circumstances and that any issues or concerns can be addressed.
“The university has also established the Workload Governance Group, whose role is to assess the impact and operation of the workload policy and to ensure that as far as possible the policy is implemented consistently and fairly across the whole of the university.
“We take the wellbeing of all our staff extremely seriously and we urge any member of staff who is concerned about their workload to raise it with their line manager so all available advice and support can be offered.”