The UCU anti-casualisation group has been collecting testimonies and anecdotal evidence on precarious work across the University and have come across many worrying practices, with evidence of some staff kept in precarious contracts for as long as 20 years and not being properly recognized for the work they routinely carry on. Within Cardiff UCU members (excluding postgraduates and retired members), 32.3% are on non-secure contracts, including (nearly) zero-hour contracts. Casual staff are likely to be under represented in our membership and HESA figures point to 48.6% of academic staff in Cardiff University being on fixed-term or atypical contracts in 2016/17, with atypical contracts accounting for more than half of this figure. Continue reading
The University has released on the intranet more information about its current restructuring exercise, “Transforming Cardiff”. It boils down to a commitment to improving teaching, research, and professional services, while spending less money. They have commited to releasing more information about the voluntary severance scheme (VSS) , which will form a major part of this plan, next week.
Cardiff UCU have raised numerous concerns about Transforming Cardiff in general, and the severance scheme in particular. This is the third such scheme our members have had to contend with in six years, and the VC has repeatedly refused to rule out compulsory redundancies.
We are currently working with the other campus Unions on a statement which explains our shared problems with the new VSS scheme, and our plans to collectively resist compulsory job cuts in future. We’ll keep you informed.
As part of our Workload Campaign, we are holding another training session on the morning of Wednesday 5th December for those who were unable to attend the last session.
Adam Lincoln from UCU Head Office in London will be coming to Cardiff to run a half-day introduction to the role of the workload rep., and how we can use our rights as trade unionists (particularly under Health and Safety legislation) to take action in support of manageable workloads. The training will provide you with the skills and information needed to help us take the next step in our campaign to take back our time.
To find out more, or book on to the training, please contact the branch office.
Zac Williams a final year Sociology undergraduate doing his dissertation on trade unionism. He wants to talk to Cardiff UCU members about their values and experiences. If you can spare 30 minutes of your time, he would really appreciate hearing from you. He wants to talk to members who do not work in his own school (Social Sciences). You can find out more about Zac’s study by emailing him directly (WilliamsZJ@cardiff.ac.uk), or by contacting his supervisor, Finn Bowring (BowringF@cardiff.ac.uk).
Clare Gibbs (UCU Coleg y Cymoedd, Communication Representative)
College lecturers across Wales will be taking strike action over pay and workload on Tuesday 4th December, Thursday 13th December and Friday 14th December. This has been decided following the fantastic ballot result of University and College Union members who voted overwhelmingly to support. On pay the result was 90.5% in support of strike action with a 52.3% turnout. On workload there was a 53.8% turnout with 90.1% in favour of action. Both ballot results comfortably meet the thresholds set by the 2016 Trade Union Act indicating the strength of feeling amongst lecturing staff over these issues. Continue reading
Many members have expressed concern after reports in the Welsh media suggested the University was facing financial difficulties and considering widespread redundancies. We have been working, behind the scenes, to get more information from the University about its plans to make cuts, as well as to ensure we are consulted properly so we can represent you effectively.
Our priority is to work with the University to avoid compulsory redundancies, but the University has so far been unable to offer reassurances in this regard. We want to avoid a dispute over this, but we’ve been clear with the University that if it doesn’t engage with us we’ll consult with our members about next steps.
We have requested (for the second time) that the University convene a meeting of the Joint Negotiating Committee of campus unions so that real engagement can happen and a dispute can be avoided.
Read our letter to the Vice-Chancellor (PDF).
We will keep you informed of any progress that is made, and continue to fight against the threat of compulsory redundancies.
Numerous Cardiff UCU members will be participating in and speaking at this University event to mark the International Day of Disabled Persons. It looks to be a fascinating session, and we encourage members to attend.
As ever, our colleagues at USS Briefs have been working hard to keep up the pressure over pensions. This piece, co-written by Cardiff UCU’s Nicky Priaulx, provides an excellent overview of how we’ve been completely vindicated in striking and fighting to retain our pensions.
Cardiff UCU’s Woon Wong has been tirelessly engaging with all of the relevant stakeholders to advance his analysis of the “phantom deficit” behind USS – read his most recent piece.
And finally, this one isn’t about pensions per se, but instead about the dangers of Universities acting like banks and issuing large public bonds. As you read, remember that Cardiff University issued a £300 million bond a few years ago, and that all our employers’ upcoming decisions (about pensions, pay, and broader working conditions) are likely to be in some way affected by this increasing financialized debt:
The Anti-casualisation working group is a sub-group of the UCU executive committee, dealing specifically with issues around precarious work across the university. Its current main priority is to secure employee status for postgraduate tutors at Cardiff so they can enjoy the same employment rights as other staff.
They are currently in the process of meeting with the University to convince them that employment rights for postgraduate workers are a positive step forward for all parties, as has been the case with many other universities across the UK. This is a very important campaign, not least because while postgraduate tutors are not recognised as employees, the union cannot represent them in negotiations to fight for better and more secure working conditions.
We will also be surveying all employees at Cardiff about issues relating to precarity and job security – keep an eye out for these, and please fill it in when it hits your in-box.
If you’d like to know more about the issues facing precarious workers at Cardiff then check out this recent blog post by branch member Rowan Campbell, or watch this YouTube video of Rowan talking about these problems.
To get involved with the Anti-casualisation group, please email Renata Medeiros (email@example.com) or Rowan Campbell (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Anti-Precarity Cymru Group, in which numerous Cardiff UCU members are active, has launched digital versions of their Anti-Precarity zines. You can create paper versions for yourself or to share with others by printing these off and folding them in half to create A5 booklets.
The problems experienced by precariously-employed colleagues in the marketized University are both very challenging and little-understood among many colleagues – we urge you to print some of these out to leave in common spaces around the campus.