The local UCU Executive issued the following statement to coincide with the “University mental health day” on 7 March 2019. It has gone to the Acting VC, the Registrar, and the Director of Human Resources.
Thursday 7 March has been designated University Mental Heath Day.
With this in mind, UCU calls on University management to meet the demand of academic and administrative staff by undertaking a formal Health and Safety Assessment of the current policy dictating a four-week marking turnaround.
Mental well being is not just an individual issue–as management has often implied–but is shaped by the managerial structures and pressures in which staff work.
We have campaigned on this issue ever since the policy was imposed, responding to the anger and concern of many departments and individual staff members–union and non-union–who have raised major professional and personal concerns about unprofessional marking practices and serious stress issues resulting from the policy. The resounding consensus is that this imposed, blanket policy creates a hostile environment, which is harmful and potentially life threatening to staff. *
Management has responded to these concerns by citing alleged student demand, the decision of a dubiously democratic Senate top-heavy with management figures, and by telling UCU ‘we need to be aligned with our competitors’.
We have said, ‘Not at the expense of our well-being, nor of the best interests of students [who consistently tell us that they want high quality assessment done under proper professional conditions], nor of our professional ethics .’
University Mental Health Day? We say to our management : show us that you take it seriously. Meet your duty of care to staff by subjecting your own imposed policy to a basic level of Health and Safety scrutiny.
We want a Health and Safety assessment of this ill-considered policy, and we want it now.
University of York UCU
* if anyone wants clear, if distressing evidence of how bad this can get (content warning: potentially triggering article), follow this link – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-47296631