Author Archives: the Cardiff UCU web team

Executive Committee 2020-21

Following the AGM we can confirm the following members of the new executive committee which succeed the current executive committee in September 2020.

  • President: Lucy Riglin
  • Vice Presidents (2): Paul Brennan & Esther Muddiman
  • Chair: Steven Stanley
  • Treasurer: Phil Parkes
  • Secretary: Ryan Prout
  • Membership and recruitment secretary: Luzia Dominguez
  • Equality & diversity officer: Abyd Quinn Aziz
  • Anti-casualisation officer: Renata Medeiros Mirra
  • Health & safety officer: Andy Skyrme
  • Pensions officer: Dave Atkins
  • Environmental officer: Paul Rock
  • Media and communications officer: Andy Williams
  • Staff wellbeing officer: Nick Russell
  • LGBT officer: Clea Rees
  • Ordinary members (8): Marc Bühner, Chris Graves, Joe Healy, Nicky Priaulx, Patrick Sutton, Laurence Totelin, Martin Weinel  and Chris Yewlett

If you would like to get involved on the executive committee, there are still vacancies for four positions: learning rep, disability representative, organising coordinator and policy officer. In addition, once it takes office in September the new executive committee will be able to co-opt up to 6 members in accordance with the branch rules. So do get in touch!

Reply to our open letter from the VC

We sent an open letter to the Vice Chancellor of Cardiff University, Colin Riordan, on 26 February.

On 2 March we received the following reply:

Dear signatories

With reference to your open letter of 26 February, our input on a potential offer to the UCU was not solicited by 3pm on that day and we have not had any such approach since then. You will be aware that UUK in November made an offer in line with the recommendations of JEP1, to show good will and in an attempt to avoid industrial action. The offer was rejected by UCU even though the Joint Expert Panel has three UCU-appointed experts as members.

Recently we completed our response to the consultation on JEP2 and this will be published on our website in due course. As with JEP1, we have worked closely with our own Cardiff University panel of experts on this response, which is supportive of the work and recommendations of the second report from the Joint Expert Panel.

Please see my email to staff and my email to students for more detail on a possible resolution to the dispute.

Yours

Colin Riordan

Is-Ganghellor/ Vice-Chancellor

Prifysgol Caerdydd/ Cardiff University

Cardiff UCU executive committee – ballot now open

The Cardiff UCU ballot is now open to elect our branch president and chair for the 2020-21 academic year.

Please check your inboxes! You should have received by email a personalised link this morning (Tues 3 March) from yoursay@ucu.org.uk. Follow the link to read the candidates’ election statements and cast your vote.

If you have not received a link, please check your spam folder and if it is not there please email Ed Bailey.

The ballot will run for two weeks, closing at noon on 17 March. The results will be announced at the AGM on 18 March.

An appeal for strike solidarity to Welsh unions, political parties, branches, and individuals

For the third time in two years, tens of thousands of staff at 74 UK Universities are striking to defend their pensions and improve pay and conditions, which have deteriorated beyond belief in the last decade.

UCU members beat the punitive 50% threshold for action with convincing mandates to strike to prevent the erosion of our USS pensions, as well as to improve our pay, unhealthy workloads, gig-economy style precarious working conditions, and pay inequality.

In response to our members successfully defending their USS pensions in 2018, the pension trustee, along with our employers, are trying a different tactic: to incrementally increase contribution rates until the scheme becomes so unattractive to new members it becomes truly unsustainable. UCU’s own expert analysis, confirmed by the independent body set up after the USS Strike last year (the Joint Expert Panel, or JEP), shows that the scheme is currently healthy, and just needs to be valued more appropriately. This is purely an attempt to save money and run the current scheme down.

This time, we’re also striking on further pressing issues. As well as a convincing mandate for action on pensions, we are now striking to improve:

  • Our pay (which has fallen 20% in value in 10 years);
  • Unsustainable and unhealthy workloads, which are fuelling a creeping mental health crisis among University staff (we all know colleagues leaving the profession because of stress, going off sick, and even in some tragic cases taking their own lives);
  • Insecure employment in Universities (more than half of all staff are employed on casual contracts, zero-hours contracts persist, and most PhD student members who teach are not even recognised as employees, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation, with little employment protection); and
  • Pay inequality in Universities (where the gender pay gap is currently 15%, the BME pay gap is a disgrace, and where inflated senior management salaries are incredibly high – e.g. the VC at Cardiff earns more than £250,000 in basic pay, even before considerable perks and bonuses).

Our programme of Cardiff strike events can be found here.

All supporters are welcome at any of these.

What can Welsh Unions, political parties, branches, and individuals do to support our striking workers?

  • Encourage people to attend our mass rallies and bring Union/Party branch banners (Thursday 5th and 12th March, 11am, Alexandra Gardens/Cathays Park);
  • Come to our picket lines and support us in building and sustaining the strike (8.30am-11am, outside key University buildings, go to the Main Building picket on Park Place for guidance);
  • Come to our rallies, give speeches, play music, sing, and resist (every day apart from 5th and 12th, outside the Main Building, Park Place, 11am);
  • Send messages of support from your unions/parties nationally or locally to UCU@Cardiff.ac.uk or post them on Twitter mentioning @cardiffUCU and @UCU;
  • Donate to our local Cardiff strike fund, which will target those who are paid least and employed most precariously to help us to keep this strike solid (payment details below).
  • If you’d like us to come and give an update about our strike at a Union meeting to give mutual solidarity with your own struggles please just ask – we’d be very happy for the chance.

To donate to our local Cardiff strike hardship fund, please use the following options:

Our GoFundMe crowd-funding page.

Bank transfer:

Name: UCU Cardiff LA12 Fighting Fund
Account No.: 20341260
Bank Sort code: 608301
Bank: Unity Trust Bank

Send cheques to:

Cardiff University and College Union
49b Park Place
Cardiff
CF10 3AT

Cardiff UCU contact details

 

Open Letter to the VC on UUK Consultation

The following open letter was sent today to Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University from the Executive of Cardiff University and College Union, Cardiff Students’ Union, and Cardiff Students Support the Strike

Dear Professor Riordan,

We are writing to urge you to use your voice today to push for a swift and constructive end to the current industrial action over pensions that is so painful for our students, our staff, and our institution.

On the 19th February, you were asked by Universities UK (UUK) whether or not you wanted to make an enhanced offer with regards to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), an offer that could have averted this action. No offer was made.  Indeed, UUK reported that 84% of Vice-Chancellors voted against extending a new offer.

We understand that before 3pm today, 26 February 2020, UUK will be soliciting your input on a potential offer to the UCU.

We request that you:

  • Tell UUK today that you want to offer UCU negotiators a USS contribution rate that they can recommend to their union, so that this dispute can be settled.
  • Reveal to Cardiff University students and staff how you are responding today and have done in the past to UUK consultations

Today is your chance to contribute to an end to the industrial action by telling UUK that this time you want to present an offer.  UUK can only resolve this dispute if Vice-Chancellors like you tell them that you want them to do it.   As you have said so many times, we need to find a solution.  Today, UUK needs to hear from you.  This is your chance to do something!

Yours,

The Executive of Cardiff University and College Union
Cardiff Students’ Union
Cardiff Students Support the Strike

Members may be interested to note the following additional information.

UCU negotiators cannot and will not accept unaffordable USS contribution rates, because:

  • Some staff have already been forced out of the USS pension scheme altogether, having to sacrifice dignity in retirement for financial security, and more likely will be.
  • It is the lowest-paid staff – disproportionately female and BAME – would be most threatened by unaffordable rise in rates.
  • Such opting-out would in turn undermine the long-term stability of the scheme, which UUK claims is a great concern to them and to the USS trustees.
  • For staff who decide to stay in the scheme, rate rises would further reduce their monthly net pay, which has already fallen one-fifth on average in real terms (a matter subject to a related dispute).
  • Again, it is women and BAME staff remaining in the scheme would be affected disproportionately harshly.
  • An unattractive employment package – pension combined with pay and workload – will deter excellent scholars from joining Cardiff University in future, harming this institution in far into the future.

The JEP was an agreed by UUK, USS and the UCU as a means of finding agreement on the pension valuation.  To ignore its findings and recommendations is bad faith and bad science.  The dismissal of both the JEP’s report and Professor Jane Hutton has further undermined UCU trust in USS governance.

Become a delegate at the UCU Cymru Congress 2020

Wales Congress is the governing body of UCU Cymru and the next Congress will be on 29 February 2019. As a branch we can send up to a whopping 23 delegates, and if you would be interested in going then please nominate yourself by emailing ucu@cardiff.ac.uk by 18 December.

Congress is an opportunity to influence policy and, as a branch, we are entitled to submit 2 motions. These will be chosen at our next Cardiff UCU General Meeting (on the 22nd January) so it’s not too early to start thinking about motions you would like to submit. See our document on the basics of drafting a motion.