von Julian Marxen
Too many employees in the office or in the laboratory, no staggered shifts, a lax approach to the mask requirement and home office is obviously not welcome. There should even have been Christmas parties in attendance. Working safely under pandemic conditions should look different. But at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU) it seems to be exactly the same in some areas, especially in the natural sciences. At least that’s what some employees report in an interview with NDR Schleswig-Holstein. They complain that their superiors interpret the corona protection provisions rather laxly and hardly care about occupational safety.
AUDIO: CAU employees criticize lax Covid-19 protection (1 min)
Research more important than occupational safety?
The chairman of the staff council, Heinke Gier, is also very well aware of the problem. Some employees are terrified because too many scientists are in the institute at the same time, says Gier. Some of the employees could also work from home. “Unfortunately, our supervisor does not respond to suggestions to work in staggered shifts – and has been for almost a year,” reports one employee who wants to remain anonymous. “There are professors to whom research is apparently more important than the well-being of their staff,” criticizes Gier.
Institutes decide individually
Some employees ask themselves: “Why does the university management not intervene? Does a corona outbreak have to occur before action is taken?” The Chancellor of Kiel University, Claudia Meyer, referred to NDR demand that, for example, “Home office cannot be arranged across the board due to the diversity of workplaces”. The superiors in the institutes should decide how to work. After all, they could best assess “how the activities should be organized in order to protect the employees and at the same time ensure the operation.” Everything taking into account the hygiene and distance regulations, as the Chancellor emphasizes. And according to her portrayal, “the vast majority of superiors fulfill their responsibility in an exemplary manner.”
Employees should report
But things are not going exemplary everywhere. The University Chancellor advises employees to officially report problems so that superiors can be made responsible. But that is exactly another problem. As employees of NDR Schleswig-Holstein said, they fear consequences if they express themselves critically. Staff council chief Gier therefore calls on all institute directors: “Take care of the safety of the employees!” And the staff council would like to see clearer rules on occupational health and safety from politics: for example, that superiors have to provide a reason if they are of the opinion that home office is not possible in their area.