Author Archives: the Cardiff UCU web team

Cardiff UCU Finance Working Group: We’re hiring an accountant!

As we’ve mentioned before, the local volunteers on our finance working group have been doing amazing work critically examining the University’s financial information, with a view to critiquing the case for cuts to staff and re-organisation of the University. It has been a central plank of our campaign against “Transforming Cardiff”, and has given us a lot of information in our on-going discussions with management (see these videos, for example).

On the advice of the finance group, the Cardiff UCU AGM this week agreed to take this research to the next step, and to use some of our limited resources to commission a qualified accountant to do more of this work on our behalf (there’s only so much our volunteer members can do without more expert guidance and input). Given our failure to meet the 50% threshold for action to defend against compulsory redundancies, this vital work becomes even more important.

Watch this space, but in the meantime you can read about what was found when our colleagues at Bangor UCU did the same thing.

Update on our discussions with management about “Transforming Cardiff”

The work of our finance group has generated lots of questions and data which undermines Cardiff’s rationale for its planned swingeing cuts. We’ve repeatedly asked for the University Executive Board and others to engage with us on these figures, and give us answers to our many questions.

Along with the other trade unions and the Students’ Union we will be meeting with UEB and members of council and pushing for information, clarity, and action around the following points:

  • The real causes of the financial situation at Cardiff University
  • Likely impact of VSS, and other potential job losses, on workload, health and safety, income generation capability and student experience
  • Current and future impact of the massive public bond the University took out in 2016 to finance building projects, and its capital investment strategy in general
  • Alternative approaches to “Transforming Cardiff”
  • The role of UEB and governing bodies in getting us in this mess in the first place (we’ve argued for a while now, based on the evidence we’ve generated, that mis-management got us here, not just external factors.

What can you do to resist, and get clued-up about, “Transforming Cardiff?

Please join us for regular informal lunch-time gatherings (bring your lunch) every Monday in the Foyer/Viriamu Jones Gallery of the University’s main building. We think this is an excellent opportunity to meet colleagues from other schools, to discuss the situation of the University and to generate ideas for a more sustainable future. More info here.

School Climate Strikes: Add your name in solidarity with other UCU members

School students around the world will be taking part in strikes today to demand urgent action on climate change. There’s a list and map of hundreds of planned actions and a global Facebook event.

A group of UCU members have so far collected over 200 signatories from UCU activists for the solidarity statement and we will publishing the full list of names in the next few days. Please encourage your colleagues to sign.

Cardiff UCU in the news

The Western Mail and Wales Online have covered the continuing financial decline of Welsh Universities in an in-depth piece looking at latest HEFCW stats. Cardiff UCU were quoted, and we highlighted our consistent and evidence-based concerns over levels of financialised debt, and the prioritisation of shiny buildings over staff and human resources. If the Uni hadn’t been so keen to get us into huge debt for these mega-building projects, it’d be much more able to deal with (often predictable) current and future deficits. Read it online.

Cardiff UCU New Executive Committee 2019/20

We’ve now elected our new executive committee for the year 2019-20, and we’re again pleased to see such a big group of committed, skilled, and knowledgeable members stepping up to steer our branch. The new committee will take up office at the beginning of the next academic year.There’s still one vacancy for Vice-President, which we’d love to fill, ideally with a female member to help us counter the current gender imbalance on the committee.

If you’d like to put yourself forward, or find out more, then drop into the office, or email ucu@cardiff.ac.uk.

We’re only ever effective because of the commitment of local activists willing to put in the hours to act on everyone’s behalf.

President
Ryan Prout

Vice-president
Paul Brennan

Vice-president
VACANT

Chair
Chris Graves

Secretary
Simon Wood

Treasurer
Phil Parkes

Membership and recruitment secretary
Luzia Dominguez

Equality and diversity officer
Abyd Quinn-Aziz

Anti-casualisation officer
Renata Medeiros Mirra & Rowan Campbell (job share)

Health & safety officer
Andy Skyrme

Learning representative
Josh Robinson

Pensions officer
Dave Atkins

Environmental officer
Paul Rock

Media and communications officer
Andy Williams

Staff wellbeing officer
Nick Russell

Disability representative
Irina Erchova

LGBT Officer
Clea Rees

Ordinary members
Colin Berry
Marc Bühner
Adam Errington
Michelle Huws-Thomas
Esther Muddiman
Clea Rees
Lucy Riglin
Steven Stanley
Martin Weinel

Workload and its effects

This week was the anniversary of the death of our colleague Malcolm Anderson, who sadly took his own life on 19th February 2018. Many of you will have seen the BBC’s report into workload and stress that was screened on Wednesday night. It includes a moving interview with Malcolm’s widow, who describes the impossible workload that Malcolm was trying to manage, and how it pushed him too far.

For those who have not seen it, the report is available on the BBC’s website and on YouTube.

Staff in Cardiff Business School (CARBS), where Malcolm worked, continue to fight against unmanageable workloads and in November carried out a survey of academic staff in CARBS whose workload is allocated through the Workload Allocation Model. The survey was designed by the CARBS Workload Group and the UCU Workload Health & Safety team and provides evidence requested by the University Workload Governance Group to support staff claims of excessive work demands.

The report of its findings is now available:

Casework

Demand for caseworkers for UCU members remains high. What is particularly noticeable is the number of complaints about the unfair use of fixed-term contracts, zero-hours or nearly-zero hours contracts; reports of bullying; and continuing concern over access to the occupational health service. If you are experiencing any workplace issue that is concerning you, we encourage you to get in touch with Sally in the UCU office on sally.buffard@onmicrosoft.ucu.org.uk to discuss it. She can arrange for a caseworker to assist you if you need support. The caseworker will be another UCU member employed by the University, from a different School or Directorate.

If you feel you would like to help by volunteering to join our casework team, please email the office on ucu@cardiff.ac.uk

Re-Thinking the University: Past, Present, and Possible Futures

A group of CU academics from various disciplines has recently formed a new initiative “Re-Thinking the University: Past, Present, and Possible Futures”. The aim of the initiative is to increase the understanding of CU governance structures and to provide a platform to reflect on current governance practices at our university.

For the Spring Semester 2019, the group has organised a seminar series to provide historic and contemporary perspectives on how universities are run. The series will be kicked off by Dr Eric Lybeck (University of Manchester) in A Tale of Two Universities: Critical & Institutional Perspectives on the Civic University on Thursday 28 February 2019, 1-2 pm, Beverton Lecture Theatre, Main Building.

The seminar series is organised independently by CU academics, supported by UCU. For further information on this initiative can be found on the Rethinking the University website.