Caseworkers are Oxford UCU members who volunteer to help out other members. Helping out our members with work-related difficulties is at the heart of what we do as a trade union branch.
We are always looking for new caseworkers to help support members. Interested members should contact Bernadette and/or the Casework Coordinator (Mikal Mast) for more information. You are encouraged to shadow surgery meetings to learn how the system works. We keep a list of the dates potential caseworkers are available. If you add your name and availability to this, then whenever a suitable opportunity arises, you will be contacted. Once you feel confident enough to take on a case, on your own or with another caseworker, let us know.
Oxford UCU aims to take a collective approach to casework where caseworkers work together as much as possible. Ideally we like to allocate two caseworkers to each case to allow new caseworkers to learn from more experienced activists, and so there if one worker needs to step back from a case, the other can continue. This is not always possible if there are not enough caseworkers available. We encourage caseworkers to involve other branch activists
We organise regular casework team meetings to discuss ongoing cases and other issues related to casework.
Branch reps and committee members are encouraged to get involved with casework. We aim to have a large number of caseworkers doing a few cases each, rather than a few caseworkers taking on too much. No caseworker should be put under pressure to take on a case if they do not wish to.
If caseworkers or reps are directly approached by a member seeking help, they should ask the member to complete a casework form and return it to Bernadette. It is important that all cases are logged to ensure members are covered by liability insurance.
Casework is a trade union duty and caseworkers are entitled to reasonable paid time off work to carry out these duties. As there is no detailed agreement with the university, it is up to individual caseworkers to negotiate this with their line manager. The Casework Coordinator and the branch committee can help if you encounter problems. The branch committee would like to negotiate a more formal facilities time agreement with the university. To provide data to help this, we ask caseworkers to keep records of the amount of time they spend on casework.
Caseworkers are not professional counsellors and there is no formal training requirement. However caseworkers are encouraged to attend training offered by UCU. We periodically invite UCU regional officials to offer training in Oxford. We offer informal local training at caseworker meetings.
The Caseworker Coordinator is the branch committee member with the responsibility to allocate and monitor branch cases. This should be done by working with the team and decisions should be taken collectively where possible. The coordinator will also keep the committee informed about trends in casework.