Author Archives: the Cardiff UCU web team

Report from the LGBT+ Workers’ Conference

Ryan Prout at TUC LGBT 2019

Ryan Prout (Cardiff UCU President and NEC members for HE LGBT+), speaking in Congress House, led the UCU delegation to the 2019 LGBT+ Workers’ Conference (4-5 July).

Headline speakers at the Conference were Frances O’Grady (TUC General Secretary), and Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Angela Rayner MP.

UCU’s motion–carried unanimously–, was on non-binary inclusion.

Stand up to Trump

The Stand Up to Trump Coalition, are planning to march in Cardiff on Saturday 1st June at 12PM, venue tba (Hopefully City Hall).

There will be a meeting to discuss details on Thursday 23rd May at 6.30pm in Cathays Community Centre, Cathays Terrace, Cardiff.

There is also a banner making workshop planned for the following Thursday, 30th at the same place and time.

They will be putting on coaches to the national demonstration in London on 4th June, details tba.

University of London Academic Boycott

There is a currently a growing academic boycott of the University of London, in solidarity with UoL outsourced workers who are fighting to be brought in-house and treated equally to other UoL staff.

Following repeated protests and strikes, the university continues to refuse to sit down and negotiate with the outsourced migrant workers who are demanding the end of outsourcing and the discrimination in entails.

Furthermore, the University has  already been caught providing misinformation on Twitter  (then deleting the relevant tweets once caught out) and have refused to answer the IWGB’s 10 questions.

All this comes after the research NGO Corporate Watch released a damning report into the University of London’s outsourcing plans.

The IWGB are asking supporters to help the workers by pledging to boycott the university and more than 35 Senate House Seminars  and 180 Events have relocated in support of the boycott and  More than 430 academics have individually pledged solidarity to the Boycott,

 As part of the Boycott Senate House campaign they are asking supporters to have the motion passed at their local UCU branches.  So far 25 UCU branches have done so, proving that it is possible to have solidarity between different kinds of university workers.

Their next step is the UCU Congress, where the Boycott Senate House motion will be presented by one of the delegations.

Reasons for VSS

Many of you may have seen this article from The Guardian highlighting the amount of Academics considering leaving the profession due to stress.

This is particularly relevant to Cardiff given the Voluntary Severance Scheme currently being undertaken.

It has also made us curious. Are you considering taking Voluntary Severance? If so why is that? If you could e-mail your responses to UCU@cardiff.ac.uk we’d be very interested to hear them and hopefully the information should allow us to defend you better in the future.

Pensions Update: Is USS about to pull a fast one?

There is a serious danger that the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), which runs our pensions, is about to ignore the findings and recommendations of the Joint Expert Panel (JEP) which was the expert body set up at the end of the strike last year (and one of the key concessions we won).

Here’s what you need to know:

  • If implemented the findings of the JEP’s first report, underpinned and confirmed by expert and actuarial research and advice, although not perfect would result in no detriment to our pensions;
  • Because of this, alongside our own expert’s analysis, the UCU’s official position on USS is also a “no detriment” one, which does not accept anything which leaves our members paying more (there’s no need for this – the deficit is fictional);
  • Universities UK (UUK), which represents VCs, have accepted the findings of the JEP, as has Cardiff Uni (although beyond making some muted positive noises, they’ve done little/nothing to pressure USS to accept the JEP’s proposals);
  • USS, in its latest documents, does not come close to accepting the views of the JEP’s first report, and is advocating for both members and the employers to pay substantially more than they currently do;
  • This doesn’t bode well for USS’s likely reactions to the second JEP report, which is likely to be more detailed, and more wide-ranging in its recommendations;
  • This also means there’s a risk to the scheme’s long-term health, and even the possibility that our employers will drastically cut benefits and/or advocate for the closure of the scheme entirely;
  • In answer to all of this UCU has said that members will have the final say on any proposal coming from the next scheduled USS Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) meeting, on Friday 17th May (today), and the dispute will be further discussed at the next higher education sector conference at the end of May;
  • As many of us said last year when we ended the strike, we might have to re-ignite the pensions struggle in defense of our right to retire with dignity. Watch this space.

The best analysis and explanation we’ve found of all this comes from USS Briefs and you can read the most recent UCU statement on the national UCU site.

Last Chance to Vote in the UCU General Secretary Election

You should have all received your postal ballot papers for the election of the UCU General Secretary. They need to be returned by Thursday 23rd May and the postage-paid return envelope is 2nd class post, so please do send your ballot ASAP (by Monday at the latest).

Turnout in the these elections tends to be very low (13-14% in the last three General Secretary elections), with membership inertia playing a greater role than is desirable.

The retirement of Sally Hunt has created an opportunity for a more open contest this year with two candidates from the Union’s membership in HE choose from (this is unprecedented) as well as a long-standing national UCU head office employee.

We urge you to read or listen to the manifestos of the three candidates, and to exercise your right to vote on the future leadership of the union:

You can also watch a video of a recent hustings event.

UCU General Secretary Hustings, Cardiff, Saturday 11th May

The election for the new General Secretary of UCU is open and closes at noon on Thursday 23rd May. The General Secretary is the most senior position in the Union and the General Secretary will lead the Union over the next 5 years UCU has only ever had one General Secretary since its founding, Sally Hunt, who was General Secretary for 12 years.

This election is arguably the most important one in the Union and it is crucial that everyone votes! We are hosting a ‘hustings’ where candidates for General Secretary talk about why we should elect them and respond to questions from the floor.

Do you want to find out more about the current state of University and College education in the UK – across higher, further, adult, and prison education sectors? Do you want to influence the direction of the University and College Union for the next five years?

Find out how the candidates for General Secretary will address issues across the sector and change UCU for the better! We encourage all UCU members to attend!

When and where: Saturday 11th May, 1pm-2.30pm, Room E0.15, School of Mathematics, Senghennydd Road, Cardiff.

Progress in anti-casualisation negotiations for postgraduate tutors

The Cardiff UCU branch anti-casualisation working group are very pleased to report progress in our campaign for the work of post-graduate students who teach/demonstrate to be recognised as employment. The university’s management have agreed to set up a working group to explore the status of postgraduate researchers, tutors and demonstrators, and to explore the options that may be available in order to move towards a more clearly defined framework of employment.

This working group will allow close collaboration between UCU, our sister unions, the Students’ Union, and senior University management. It’s Cardiff UCU’s sincere hope that the work of this group will enable us to move towards contracted-employee status for this group. In the meantime, please read this fantastic resource that Cardiff Student Union’s Jake Smith (Vice-President Postgrad) has created to ensure that PGRs who teach are aware of their rights. Please pass it on to the students who teach on your modules, and check if there are any areas where your department does not meet the Code of Practice requirements. You can also read a more general guide to supporting PGRs.

Vote in the UCU National General Secretary Election

Following the resignation of Sally Hunt, a vacancy has arisen in the position of general secretary of the University and College Union. The position of general secretary is a full-time, salaried position as the union’s chief executive – in other words this is the most important vote for a UCU officer in a long while.

The candidates, with links to their manifestoes, are:

You can view a video of hustings hosted by Cambridge UCU. You can also read the emails written to members and already circulated by UCU head office.

The election for UCU General Secretary opened on Monday 29 April and closes at noon on Thursday 23 May 2019. Ballot material will be dispatched on 29 April – the union knows that this can take a few days to arrive.

If any member has not received the ballot paper to which they are entitled by Tuesday 7 May, they should request a duplicate using an online form which will be made available on this page. If you have any queries about the election process, please contact Catherine Wilkinson on: cwilkinson@ucu.org.uk (she’s head of constitution and committees).