USU update: COVID-19

Further USU COVID-19 Update
 

SYDNEY, Wednesday 6 May 2020:

A further update from the University of Sydney Union (USU) to our members, stakeholders and the entire student community at the University about our ongoing response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 crisis.
 
During April the USU Board and senior staff have worked through the difficult task of charting the next steps for the USU in 2020. The USU has been consulting with stakeholders, including the University, our business partners and professional advisers.
 
While the USU is eligible for and will soon start receiving reimbursement for JobKeeper for all eligible employees, we have been working to scale down the organisation’s expenses at a time of radically reduced revenues for the USU. This has involved plans for a reduction in usual business expenses, but also a reduction to staff hours to reduce staff costs.
 
In this work we have had to base our calculations on conservative assumptions. A major assumption is that there will not be face-to-face teaching and learning on campus in Second Semester 2020. We very much hope that campus life resumes before 2021, but at this stage it is far from certain. We are closely monitoring the evolving situation and will review our approach regularly.
 

USU Staff

Given the above, the USU has today advised staff that it must reduce the working hours of our entire workforce to 60 per cent of normal business operations, effective next Monday 11 May. This will therefore involve a reduction to the wages of the entire workforce, including the management team and the stipends of the Board Directors, by 40 per cent.
 
This decision has received the most careful consideration by the USU Board and management. Different possible scenarios have been tried and tested. However, balancing both staff welfare and the USU’s financial sustainability at this time, the reduction in working hours to 60 per cent of usual has been decided. These arrangements will be effective until Friday 26 June 2020, pending further extension and news from the University regarding the return of students to campus.
 
Today all staff will receive written notice of this reduction of working hours and they will meet with their managers over the coming days to discuss this development.
 
USU President Connor Wherrett said, “The decision to reduce business expenses and staff working hours is a grave matter. This is a time of crisis for the USU and this decision is being made, fundamentally, to save jobs and the Union.
 
“I know it will have a significant impact on our people. As soon as it is feasible to lift these measures, we will do so. Until then, on behalf of the Board I thank the USU staff for their hard work and patience over the past month and I ask them to stay strong during this difficult time. We are all in this together.”
 

USU Retail Tenants – Manning & Wentworth

The COVID-19 crisis remains difficult also for the USU’s diverse retail tenants across both
Wentworth and Manning Buildings. The following USU tenants are currently operating:
 
MANNING HOUSE Zambeli’s (6am-2pm)
WENTWORTH BUILDING Uni Bros (8am-2pm)
Subway (8am-2.30pm)
  Chris MacMahon Optometrist (8am-1pm) CSG Printing (7.30am-5pm)
Douglas Moir Pathology (7.30am-5pm) Premier Health (7.30am-6pm)
Union Pharmacy (8am-5pm)
 
The USU will engage in discussions with tenants about the way forward in the months ahead. In the meantime, social distancing and best practice hygiene are in place.
 

Campus Operations

All of the USU’s retail outlets have been closed since 6 April, with the exception of:
  • Footbridge Station @ Holme (7am-4pm)
  • USYD Store @ JFR (9am-5pm)
 
These two outlets remain open for the convenience of the University community. They operate as takeaway only, enforcing social distancing rules and continuing with enhanced hygiene practices, following the advice of federal and state governments and NSW Health.
 
For details of the current status of all USU operations and activities, please see the Annexure to this release. We will continue to update these arrangements as necessary. Please check our social media and our website for the latest information.

Kind Regards, 

Connor Wherrett
USU President

SYDNEY, April 3, 2020: 


A further update from the University of Sydney Union (USU) to our members, stakeholders and the entire student community at the University about our ongoing response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 crisis.
 
Over the last month the USU Board and management have been carefully monitoring University and government responses to the COVID-19 crisis. In the circumstances the USU is taking action to close all but three of its retail outlets and is working with retail tenants to maintain some services to those who remain on campus.
 
USU Campus Operations
From Monday 6 April the USU will close all its retail outlets, with the exception of:
 
  • Footbridge Station @ Holme (7am-4pm)
  • Snack Express @ Wentworth Food Court (8am-3pm)
  • USYD Store @ JFR (9am-5pm)
These three outlets will remain open for the convenience of the University community. They will operate as takeaway only, enforcing social distancing rules and continuing with enhanced hygiene practices, following the advice of federal and state governments and NSW Health.
 
For details of the current status of all USU operations and activities, please see the Annexure to this release. We will continue to update these arrangements as necessary. Please check our social media and our website for the latest information.
 
USU Retail Tenants – Manning & Wentworth
The COVID-19 crisis is proving difficult also for the USU’s diverse retail tenants across both Wentworth and Manning Buildings. The USU is currently in discussions with tenants about the way forward. In the meantime, social distancing and best practice hygiene are in place.
 
While we understand that they, like the USU, may need to be flexible with their offerings and opening hours during this crisis, we are encouraging them to stay open for the benefit of the students and staff remaining on campus and those in accommodation nearby. Again, we will provide updates as the situation develops.
 
USU Staff
Regrettably, the closure of USU outlets means that the USU must stand some staff down during this COVID-19 crisis period.
 
However the USU intends to apply for the Federal Government’s recently-announced JobKeeper Subsidy and, if eligible, we will make that payment to all eligible USU employees, including those now being stood down and the relevant casual employees who could no longer be rostered following the downturn in attendance on campus during March.
As before, all other USU staff who can feasibly work from home are now doing so and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
 
USU President Connor Wherrett said, “Closing almost all USU outlets on campus is not a decision the USU has taken lightly. We are proud of our long history of serving students and the University community and we look forward to resuming operations just as soon as we can. Footbridge, Snack Express and USYD Store @ JFR remain open for urgent supplies for the few who remain on campus.”

Kind Regards, 

Connor Wherrett
USU President

SYDNEY, March 24, 2020:

The University of Sydney Union (USU) wishes to update its members, stakeholders and the entire student community at the University of Sydney about our ongoing response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 crisis.
 
Our highest concern remains the wellbeing of the entire University community. We continue to work closely with the University in our operations planning, following the advice of the State and Federal governments, as well as NSW Health.
 
We are pleased to announce that the USU is catering for students currently self-isolating in University student accommodation. The USU is working with the University to provide three meals a day to these students and is scoping further opportunities to support our student community at this difficult time.
 
Given recent NSW government announcements and this week’s shift to online teaching at the University, we are monitoring the situation closely and may scale down further our face to face campus operations while endeavouring to deliver as many of our services online as feasible.
 
Updates are as follows:   
 
USU Campus Operations
In relation to our operations on campus, enhanced hygiene measures continue and our USUEats outlets now provide takeaway service only.
 
Regrettably, the Verge Gallery will be closed from today. Carslaw Kitchen will close from this Wednesday 25 March.
 
For details of the current status of all USU operations and activities, please see the Annexure to this release. We will continue to update these arrangements as necessary so please check our social media and our website for the latest information.
 
USU Staff
Following our trial and transitional arrangements last week, all USU staff who can feasibly work from home are now doing so and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
 
USU Board Elections
As foreshadowed last week, the USU will conduct its 2020 Board election online. The Notice of Election has now been published, along with the Election Timeline. These are accessible on the USU website (www.usu.edu.au/elections) and on our noticeboards.
 
Again, thank you for your support and loyalty. If you have any questions, please contact info@usu.edu.au and we will respond to your enquiry as soon as possible.

SYDNEY, March 16, 2020:

The University of Sydney Union (USU) wishes to brief its members, stakeholders and the entire student community at the University of Sydney about our response to COVID-19 and how it may impact the student experience.
 
Our highest concern at this time is the wellbeing of the entire University community. That includes our members, staff and all students, including those who are yet to arrive on campus due to the travel ban. Our heart goes out to you and we are devastated that we haven’t yet been able to welcome you to this new academic year.   
 
Regardless of whether and when the University authorises any shutdown, it is clear that the potential spread of COVID-19 will significantly impact the USU’s normal operations.
 
The Board and senior management of the USU have together worked through responses that balance necessary precaution with our role in providing diverse services to students and staff on campus. At every stage we have remained in close contact with the University.
 
The USU relies on the revenue from our business operations, as well as on SSAF funding from the University. The loss of this revenue will have a significant negative impact on the USU’s finances this year. We will provide guidance to members on the extent of this impact at our AGM in May.
 
Our approach to the uncertainty we all face in the coming months is to scale down our face to face campus operations as far as possible, while endeavouring to deliver as many of our services online as is feasible in the short term. In all our efforts we are following the advice of the State and Federal governments, as well as NSW Health.
 
USU Campus Operations
In relation to our operations on campus, the USU has put in place enhanced hygiene measures to safeguard our community. The USU is taking a number of other urgent and necessary measures in response to COVID-19, as indicated in the Annexure to this release. We will be updating these arrangements as necessary during this evolving situation and we request that our members and stakeholders check our social media and our website for the latest information.
 
USU Staff
The Union will be trialling working from home arrangements tomorrow, 17 March, with as many staff members as possible. We ask for your patience as we transition into these different working arrangements. It is likely this will be the dominant mode of work for USU staff from Monday 23 March onwards.
 
The USU is currently working through the complex matter of staffing arrangements during this time. However, we can confirm that in relation to USU casual staff, the USU will mirror the University’s approach: if a USU casual staff member is required to self-isolate, becomes ill with COVID-19, or has to care for someone who is required to self-isolate or becomes ill with COVID-19, they will have access to special paid leave for any rostered hours that they miss in a 10 working day period. Should the campus be shutdown, such leave will also then be available to all casual staff who have not already accessed it.
 
USU Board Elections
The USU Constitution stipulates that the USU Board Elections must take place in May each year. As such, the USU is reluctantly planning to implement an online voting system for the 2020 Elections. We will provide specific election updates in the coming days.
 
As a student-led organisation with over 145 years of continued operations, we have faced many challenges in the past. In this extraordinary situation we will continue to support our members and communities through online communications and activities.
 
The USU will utilise the next few months as an opportunity to rebuild, refocus and reimagine what we provide to the student community. These next few months will be challenging for us all: we send our support to all those affected by COVID-19 and ask that each of you takes the precautions you need to stay safe and healthy.
 
Thank you for your support and loyalty. If you have any questions, please contact info@usu.edu.au and we will respond to your enquiry as soon as possible.

Kind Regards, 

Connor Wherrett
USU President
 
ANNEXURE
AS FROM 6 MAY 2020
USU STUDENT PROGRAMS  
Student Info Hubs Both ISL Student Info Hub at Wentworth and Manning House Student Info Hub will close from Tuesday 17 March.
Student Spaces
Queer, Ethno-cultural, Wom*n’s Rooms will all remain open.
ISL Lounge will close from 17 March.
Clubs & Societies Club events on campus are cancelled. The USU is communicating with Club Execs to discourage gatherings.
Debating The Easters, Australs and their trials have been cancelled.
Revues All 2020 revues have been cancelled.
Palladian Cup The 2020 Palladian Cup has been cancelled.
Campaigns The SSAF-funded Know Your Rights & Racism Sux campaigns are postponed until further notice.
Hermes Creative journal Hermes will not be published in 2020.
USU OPERATIONS  
USU EATS Takeaway service only. Additional hygiene measures in place. Arrangements for social distancing at USU Outlets implemented.
  The following USU Outlets will be closed from Monday 6 April:
Abercrombie Terrace Engo Grill
Carslaw Kitchen
Courtyard Restaurant & Bar
Deck Café (Architecture)
Fisher Kiosk
Laneway
Mallett St Café
Manning MilkBar
Snack Express
 
The following USU Outlets will remain open for trading:
Footbridge Station
USYD Store @ JFR
 

Wentworth Building will remain open (8am-3pm).
At Manning House only Zambelli Café remains open (6am-2pm).
As above, retailers may decide not to trade during COVID-19 crisis.

USU RETAIL
USYD Store @ JFR remains open.
USYD Store @ Holme will close from 23 March.
Online trading continues (www.usu.edu.au/usyd-store)
USU BARS From Monday 23 March Hermann’s Bar and Manning Bar will close for day trade and gigs. We are working with partners to assess our current schedule of events and will be in contact with ticketholders.
VERGE GALLERY The USU’s Verge Gallery in the JFR Plaza is now closed.
INCUBATE The Incubate Hub is operating remotely (www.incubate.org.au)
FOR FURTHER UPDATES SEE USU SOCIAL MEDIA AND WWW.USU.EDU.AU

Contact


If you have any questions, please contact info@usu.edu.au and we will respond to your enquiry as soon as possible.

Mail to:
The Holme Building, Science Road, The University of Sydney NSW 2006

Email us:
info@usu.edu.au

Call us:
02 9563 6000