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LSE Covid Solidarity Campaign

We are a collective of staff and students at LSE campaigning to oppose cuts at our university to protect all precarious workers and students in our community. This means recognising the needs of all students at LSE and recognising and protecting all workers, both academic and non-academic across the LSE community. 

The LSE 2030 Strategy outlines LSE’s commitment to the original vision of LSE as “a community of people and ideas, founded to know the causes of things, for the betterment of society”. Our Director, Minouche Shafik, and members of the Senior Management Committee (SMC), have reaffirmed the importance of coming together as a community in this moment of precarity and crisis due to Covid-19.

Yet, as an institution, striving to shape the world and making a “global impact” has come at a price for our immediate community. While LSE maintains a commitment to “inclusivity”, the majority of our academic and non-academic staff, colleagues, and students face increasing job uncertainty and exploitative fixed-term or casual contracts. This is despite calls from trade unions to prioritise the protection of precarious workers during this crisis.

With an endowment fund valued at £155,031,000.00 (LSE, July 2019), total net assets of £569,817,000 (LSE, July 2019), and 56% of full-time academic staff earning above £61,618 (HESA, 2019), the LSE community collectively has the capital to redistribute and protect the whole community during this time of emergency crisis.

We are petitioning for ethical and responsible planning in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. In the interests of protecting the most precarious among us, we must protect academic colleagues who otherwise face being pushed out of the academic sector because of this emergency situation, and non-academic colleagues who face increasing uncertainty in this crisis.

We come together as a collective. We are not guaranteed protection until the most precarious member of our community is protected and we will not accept the prioritisation of any group over another. As “the leading specialist social sciences institution”, we call on LSE to demonstrate ethical, humane and responsible leadership to guarantee protection for us all. We believe that this crisis affords us an unprecedented opportunity to show that another University is possible.

#LSECovidSolidarity

#LSECoronaContract

Sign our petition to the LSE Council, Court of Governors, Director and School Management Committee:

Our Campaign at a Glance

The LSE Covid Solidarity Campaign calls on the LSE Council, Court of Governors, Director and School Management Committee (SMC) of LSE to commit to the following:

1. Ensure no detriment to the pay and conditions of the University’s most precarious workers and students by contractually agreeing to the #CoronaContract, securing and extending contracts for all academic and non-academic workers at the university for a guaranteed minimum of 2 years.

2. Commit to implementing a 6:1 maximum pay ratio during the Covid-19 crisis (meaning that no one in the University earns more than six times the salary of its lowest-paid full-time employee, the current lowest band being £20,462).

3. End all attendance monitoring practices for international students and staff, and commit to opposing the hostile environment in Higher Education.

4. Ensure that all major decisions taken by the SMC in response to the present crisis take place transparently and in full and open consultation with Council, the campus Trade Unions and the Students’ Union.

The LSE Covid Solidarity Campaign demands the following specific commitments for precarious workers:

  1. Casualised Non-Academic Staff (Cleaners, Porters, Catering, Security, Other)
  2. PhD Students
  3. Casualised Academic Staff (GTAs/GTs, Teaching Fellows, Part-Time Fellows, Other)
  4. Fixed Term Contracted Staff (LSE Fellows, Research Fellows, Other)
  5. Professional Services Staff (Departmental, Research Centres, Library, SU, Other)
  6. Students

1. Casualised Non-Academic Staff (Cleaners, Porters, Catering, Security, Other)

Extend contracts for all non-academic employees for two years to mitigate the impacts of the Covid-19 health and economic crisis and, where necessary, apply the UK government’s job retention scheme to all precarious staff, topped up by the University to cover 100% of wages.

Before these staff members return to work, communicate every step of the new working guidelines effectively with this group of workers who are often informed of updates at the last minute or sometimes not at all. Recognise the needs of this group and the modes of communication that they use, as not all of them have frequent access to emails. Commit to step-by-step working guidelines for their return to work.

Cleaners

  • Commit to cover 100% of wages for both contracted hours as well as workers’ average overtime hours as long as necessary.
  • Commit to a comprehensive plan guaranteeing the health and safety of cleaning staff once they return to work. This includes identifying those who are high-risk and those with underlying medical conditions and making necessary adjustments. 
  • For staff concerned with their health and safety due to health issues, retain their full employment and offer an alternative and concrete plan.This includes cleaners who continue to self-isolate, according to self-isolation advisories for vulnerable groups. They should be continued to be paid fully instead of receiving sick pay or having to take annual leave.
  • Ensure there is a plan for staff to maintain sufficient distancing from one another once they return to work. Provide all staff with full PPE and safety equipment, including proper masks, and ensure that hazard pay is provided proportionate to the risk.
  • Commit to freezing disciplinary proceedings during this time and commit to refrain from any dismissals or redundancies for the next two years.
  • Ensure that all permanent staff who rely on overtime and whose work was filled in by agency staff have their average of hours worked overtime contracted to them as a guarantee for the next two years.

2. PhD Students

Automatic extensions for those who need it to cover the duration of the Covid-19 crisis, for students whose work has been impacted, regardless of current funding status. The increasingly grave situation and the multiple effects point to the fact that this is likely to exceed 12 months. The extension should include a stipend equivalent to the LSE PhD Studentship and the waiver of tuition fees, regardless of current funding status. In addition, PhD students graduating in the duration of the crisis should be granted visiting status, with institutional access to the library, their email account/SSO, and all school support networks for a minimum of one year.

  • If the closure of school facilities continues for longer than six months, an automatic extension must cover the period of closure and disruption to research.
  • Further extensions on a case-by-case basis, for the most severely affected.
  • These extensions should be granted without prejudice to any further extension or interruption to which a student would otherwise have been entitled. 

This should also include:

  • Full support for visa extensions including sponsorship of visas, negotiation with the Home Office if necessary, and financial support to cover costs incurred for visa extensions and NHS surcharges if relevant.
  • Where departments have a different funding structure, support for departments to maintain systems in place to support students, such as teaching contracts.

3. Casualised Academic Staff (GTAs/GTs, Teaching Fellows, Part-Time Fellows)

Extend contracts for all casualised employees for two years to mitigate the impacts of the Covid-19 health and economic crisis and, where necessary, apply the UK government’s job retention scheme to all precarious staff, topped up by the University to cover 100% of wages.

Teaching Fellows/ Part-Time Fellows

  • No cuts to teaching fellows or class teachers for 2020-21, and 2021-22.
  • Commit to a full two year extension to avoid putting colleagues in unemployment or a precarious cycle of renewable 6-12 month extensions.
  • Full support for visa extensions including sponsorship of visas, negotiation with the Home Office if necessary, and financial support to cover costs incurred for visa extensions and NHS surcharges if relevant.

GTAs/GTs

  • No cuts to departmental funds for GTA hiring. No cuts by any department to GTA hiring for 2020-21, and 2021-22.
  • Commit to centralising and standardising pay for GTAs as previously planned following the PhD Academy research into GTA pay disparity. Uphold plans to implement change as agreed prior to the Covid-19 crisis to ensure fair and just pay for preparation and marking across LSE departments.
  • Full support for visa extensions including sponsorship of visas, negotiation with the Home Office if necessary, and financial support to cover costs incurred for visa extensions and NHS surcharges if relevant.

4. Fixed Term Contracted Staff (LSE Fellows, Research Fellows, Other)

Extend contracts for all fixed-term employees for two years to mitigate the impacts of the Covid-19 health and economic crisis and, where necessary, apply the UK government’s job retention scheme to all precarious staff, topped up by the University to cover 100% of wages.

59% of LSE academic staff (2018/19) are on fixed term contracts in comparison to 41% on permanent contracts (HESA). The crisis offers an opportunity to end precarious and fixed-term employment as the norm and majority of academic staff in the university.

  • Commit to the renewal of all LSE Fellow and other fixed term fellow contracts.
  • Guarantee institutional access to the library, email accounts/SSO, and all school support networks for a minimum of one year upon the end of their contract.
  • Full support for visa extensions including sponsorship of visas, negotiation with the Home Office if necessary, and financial support to cover costs incurred for visa extensions and NHS surcharges if relevant.

5. Professional Services Staff (Departmental, Research Centres, Library, SU, Other)

Extend contracts for all fixed-term and casualised employees for two years to mitigate the impacts of the Covid-19 health and economic crisis and, where necessary, apply the UK government’s job retention scheme to all precarious staff, topped up by the University to cover 100% of wages.

6. Students

Implement a “no-detriment” policy for summative assessments (all dissertations, essays, exams, presentations and further coursework). This would entail that if a grade, during this exam period brings students’ average down to a worse result, it would be left out for the calculation of the final grade. Students would still be required to attain a passing grade. Assessments which increase the final average grade still count towards the final grade.’

  • Support the LSE Students’ Union Rent Strike efforts (#SanctuaryStrike) to protect LSE postgraduate students at Lillian Knowles House, managed by Sanctuary Students, who are being refused the right to end their summer contracts early after leaving Lillian Knowles due to Covid-19. 
  • As LSE accommodation waived or refunded summer accommodation fees for students, the school must extend this compassionate policy to students whose accommodation is managed by Sanctuary Students and who are being treated unfairly.

Sign our petition to the LSE Council, Court of Governors, Director and School Management Committee:

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