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UCU calls for Boris Johnson to resign over party scandal

Image: Number 10 [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0], via Flickr

Union also sets out its new Covid guidance for staff and universities

The head of the University and College Union has called for Boris Johnson to resign, following revelations about parties at his Downing Street home during the Covid-19 lockdown.

On 10 January, ITV published a leaked email from prime minister Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, inviting staff to bring their own drinks to a gathering in the garden of Number 10 on 20 May 2020.

On 12 January, during Prime Minister’s Questions, Johnson (pictured) admitted he attended the event, which was held when lockdown restrictions prevented large outdoor gatherings, and offered his “heartfelt apologies” for doing so.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said Johnson should now resign.

“While university and college staff were working above and beyond to ensure learning continued and students were being locked in halls or fined for Covid breaches, the architects of the chaos that swept through post-16 education were enjoying parties in Downing Street,” she said.

“Instead of bring your own booze, it should be bring your own P45 for a prime minister who has demonstrated time and again that what he lacks in integrity, he more than makes up for in unadulterated selfishness.”

Omicron fight

Meanwhile, on 12 January, the UCU urged universities to “raise their game” in the fight against the highly transmissible Omicron variant of Covid-19.

The union wants high-quality face masks freely available for all staff working on campuses, all indoor spaces on campus monitored to ensure effective ventilation, and air-filtration units used to maintain clean air where necessary. 

The UCU updated its pandemic guidance to staff after more than a million people tested positive for Covid in the UK over the past week.

It says staff must have access to vaccinations and boosters in work time without loss of pay, and institutions should have “proper” sick pay measures in place.

“College and university campuses are reopening this month while Omicron is surging throughout the UK, and it is clear employers need to raise their game to ensure staff and students are kept safe and education is not disrupted,” Grady said.

“The measures put forward by UCU are designed to reduce the risk of mass Covid outbreaks, protect those who are vulnerable and ensure staff are able to continue delivering a high-quality education for students.”