With a new contract here at Bradford, work load, and the accompanying increase in stress and ill health, is going to be a major issue. Just to remind you – the new contract means: the loss of a week’s holiday, an increase in annual teaching hours from 777 to 814 and then 828, and an increase in weekly teaching hours – for many of us, up to 25 per week.
We will all need to ensure our workloads are as manageable, equitable and fair as we can. If you believe that yours is unreasonable, contact your building rep or a branch officer.
UCU nationally has initiated a workload campaign – see details and link below.
Whenever members are asked to name their major concerns at work – excessive and demanding workloads always feature high on their lists. Not only does an excessive workload have detrimental impacts on work life balance it also threatens the ability to consistently deliver a quality service to students. ‘Give us the time to teach’ is a common refrain.
At its worst, excessive working hours can have a detrimental effect on health. Our national stress surveys indicate year on year increases in levels of stress experienced by UCU members because of workload demands.
UCU has embarked on a nationally co-ordinated campaign to address this situation. We have been corresponding with colleges asking them to confirm that they have already or will, adopt the terms of a 3 year old national agreement which is designed to address the issue of excessive working hours.
The agreement does not prescribe a specific formula of working hours such as maximum teaching hours. It’s most important element is for the employer to carry out risk assessments of working hours and duties to ensure they are not resulting in a negative impact on the health and safety of staff. It provides a procedure enabling UCU locally to take up issues of excessive workloads that are identified and reach agreement with the employer on how to tackle the situation.
Where colleges have confirmed that they will carry out assessments of working hours local UCU reps will now be able to pursue this to make sure it happens and then negotiate on suitable means to address as problems.
Although we have now had responses from a majority of colleges most at present still fall short of confirming explicitly that they will undertake risk assessments on working hours. In these circumstances and where their employer has not replied to UCU branches are being encouraged to raise the issue locally and also to hold member meetings to decide on whether they wish to declare a dispute over the issue and move to a ballot on industrial action short of strike. The intention is to coordinate any ballots nationally.