You can also view this statement on Birmingham UCU’s website.
We are pleased the University has now updated staff and students on its review of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete on campus. According to the University, of the 200+ buildings across campus, part of one building, the roof extension of the Arts building, may contain some RAAC.
Your Union Health and Safety reps first raised the issue with the University a full month earlier (8 August). After making follow-up enquiries, we escalated the issue to senior management on the morning of Thursday 7 September, seeking an urgent update. We subsequently received the University’s statement a shortly before it was published on the intranet that evening. Staff were then informed via the VC’s all-staff email the next morning, on Friday 8 September.
Initial thoughts on the University’s response
While it is positive the University has now carried out their review, communication with staff and staff safety representatives has been insufficient. In our view, management ought to have informed staff and students it was carrying out the review, not wait until after the review had been completed. This is unacceptable and is likely to damage staff and student trust when it comes to Health and Safety.
The University’s statement downplays the impact of RAAC on office-based staff. It is undoubtedly a good thing that “all teaching, research, student experience and external engagement activity will continue as planned.” However, the University’s communication ought to have more fully acknowledged that the staff offices affected by the RAAC review are also a vitally important part of our campus and support the delivery of teaching, research, student experience and external engagement activity.
Firstly, we will be working with the University to ensure that staff based in the affected offices in the Arts building are fully supported. This means ensuring they have suitable alternative accommodation and access to any equipment and other resources they may need. Please get in touch with the branch if you have any questions or concerns about relocation arrangements.
Secondly, we will be asking the University to share with us in more detail the findings of their review and how it was carried out, to ensure that we are satisfied with it. We will be checking to ensure that all university buildings have been checked, including student accommodation and The Exchange, even when they may not technically be considered part of the campus.
Keeping you informed
We understand this is a concerning issue for all of us. We will do our best to keep you informed as this situation develops. Please do not hesitate to contact us, should you have any concerns, or information you think would be helpful for us to know about.