Author Archives: UCU - University and College Union

Strike pay

If you took part in the strike, you are entitled to apply to both the National UCU Hardship Fund and the Local Cardiff UCU Hardship Fund. We have received some questions about this, which I aim to clarify below.

The National Strike Fund

The National UCU Hardship Fund is available to all staff.

Members earning £30,000 or more will be able to claim up to £50 per day from your third day onwards (subject to a cap of £800); members earning below £30,000 will be able to claim up to £75 per day from your second day onwards (subject to a cap of £1,100).

The Local Strike Fund

The local strike fund will pay for the first day or two of strike deductions that the National fund does not cover (see above). Payments will be made at the same rate.

Hourly paid staff

For hourly paid staff, where you might have only 2-3 days of missed work due to strike action and teaching patterns please feel free to apply to the Local fund only rather than make two separate applications.

For hourly paid staff who work on a more regular pattern and may have several days of work I would advise that you apply Nationally for the Strike Fund and Locally for the first day payment. If you require advice on this, please contact me.

The University will deduct pay for days that you were on strike as follows:

For strike days in February, a timesheet for February is submitted by the third working day of the month, (3rd March in this case), signed off by School admin and sent to Salaries for processing. Pay for the work carried out (or not) in February will be made at the end of March.

You have not lost any income for classes not taught due to strike action until the end of March.

For strike days in March, a timesheet for February is submitted by the third working day of the month, (3rd April in this case), signed off by School admin and sent to Salaries for processing. Pay for the work carried out (or not) in March will be made at the end of April.

You have not lost any income for classes not taught due to strike action until the end of April.

Evidence required (LOCALLY)

The Cardiff UCU accounts are audited and we have to provide evidence of any payments made (receipts/ other evidence) and every payment made has to be signed off by two signatories. An official accounts return has to be made at the end of our financial year and this evidence has to be collated in case of audit.

For members on a monthly salary – no payments are made from the strike fund until receipt of a payslip showing that pay has been deducted for strike action.

For members on an hourly salary – I am aware that with the current situation admin may be delayed and in order that you are paid for any teaching hours missed due to strike action I am following the guidance below. Please note that a number of you have specific individual circumstances that means some of this evidence may not be available. Please do not let this stop you from applying – I will personally contact you to talk through the evidence that you have in order to ensure that are given the appropriate support.

Where timesheets are available, please submit your timesheet. When you receive a payslip from which the hours indicated on the timesheet have been deducted (end of March, April, or even May), please email me with this payslip for our financial records.

If a timesheet is not available (your only teaching hours in February / March were on strike days) then I have asked that a module leader / colleague (often a fellow UCU member) or School administrator confirm that the teaching did not go ahead and this will be appropriate evidence for our financial records. As no payslip will be available, as you will be receiving no pay for that month, the written evidence above is in lieu of this.

If you have any concerns about evidence please apply anyway and I will contact you to talk you through this. Cardiff UCU have committed to supporting hourly paid staff who took strike action and I am making every effort to ensure this happens.

Phil Parkes (parkes@cardiff.ac.uk)

Cardiff UCU Branch Treasurer

 

Coronavirus Update:

We know from the UCU members who have been in contact with us so far that they are really struggling – not only with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact on us all, but also with the consequences of Cardiff University’s arguably late-in-the-day decision to immediately ‘pivot’ staff and students to remote, online, home working. The members who have been in touch with us have reported how challenging and in some cases intolerable their working lives have now become, given the current crisis and our senior management response to it.

You will hopefully have read our previous members’ newsletter, which included two letters sent from Cardiff UCU to our VC. We have since received the attached reply from Colin Riordan. We have met twice with senior University management to discuss some of the issues raised in our letters, and we have a further meeting to demand an amnesty on strike deductions this Friday. A petition has been launched to demand this amnesty https://www.megaphone.org.uk/petitions/don-t-deduct-strike-pay?share=43fe38a7-09d3-40b6-b18b-1a285bacadfa&source=email-share-button&utm_source=email

Please can you be in touch with the UCU members in your School, if you have not done so already, asking about their concerns, and encouraging them to sign the petition? We are particularly keen to discover examples of good and bad practice that are emerging at School level during this crisis period. For example, some Schools have cancelled PDRs, whereas others have not. Please let us know so that we are aware of the main issues to address with management.

Our AGM, which was due to take place on 18th March 2020, is being rescheduled and will likely take place as an online meeting. We will let you know the date as soon as this can be arranged.

Please let us know what you need and if there is anything we can help you with during this extremely challenging time.

Mass resignation of external examiners at UK Universities: How to join in

You may have seen the news this week about a group of UK senior academics, all of them UCU members, resigning from their external examiner duties at UK Universities in protest over the system-wide failure to deal with staffing problems and associated issues such as casualisation and workload. You can read about their action in the Guardian, here. The full letter from the group can be found here.

Mass resignations of external examiners were an important supplementary part of forcing an end to our 2018 pensions dispute, but this is the first time that members have used the tactic this time around. It has the potential to very disruptive, and a useful addition to the more established forms of industrial action we’re taking such as strike action and action short of a strike (ASOS).

Their statement reads: “We are refusing to act as external examiners because although we believe that this role is crucial in underpinning the quality of education provided to students, so too is the need to provide fair pay, pensions and job security for those who work in universities.”
“It is long past time for universities to address these festering problems, and we believe we have a responsibility to staff at the start of their careers to make a stand now. Please join us by resigning external examiner posts and refusing to take on new contracts until universities take action to address these issues.”

After lots of members asking for guidance on how to follow suit, UCU has since provided guidance to members on how to do so, and have also included a very useful draft resignation letter to institutions where you do external examining work.

If you do heed the call of these colleagues, and resign your post as an external examiner, please email the branch office at UCU@cardiff.ac.uk so we can keep a record of how many of our members are doing this, and if you make any statements about your action on social media, please tag in the branch account so we can help boost your signal.

Members with queries about this should contact UCU’s Matt Waddup for help on: mwaddup@ucu.org.uk.

Call for nominations to the Cardiff UCU branch Executive Committee: 2020-21

In a very real sense the Union is powered by its members, and is only as effective if an active, informed, and engaged membership steps up to fill the voluntary posts which keep our Union going.

The Cardiff UCU branch Executive Committee co-ordinates the work of the branch between general meetings, negotiating with management, planning strategy, and generally keeping the show on the road. And we could use your help!

Nominations for next year’s Branch executive committee are now open. There are a range of officer positions and 8 ordinary member roles which allow you to ease in gently and make a valuable contribution to the Branch however big or small. All positions are up for election, some of the current committee will be standing down while others are running again. You can stand for more than one position (though if you are successfully elected to a position, votes for any others will be discarded).

You would be taking up the role in September, so there is time for a handover period, and time is allowed for the work through our facilities agreement with the University.
Have a word with any current member of the exec if you’d like to know more about what’s involved, and then download your nomination paper and send it in to Sally at the office or at SBuffard@ucu.org.uk.

Nominations close on Weds 19 Feb at 4pm.

Call for Delegates to UCU Congress 2020

We are inviting nominations to the national UCU Congress 2020 which will take place in Bournemouth Wednesday 27 – Friday 29 May. Accommodation and travel & subsistence expenses will be provided.

Delegates to Congress, which is the main democratic decision-making forum for our Union, can come from rank and file members, as well as those who are more active already in local branch work.

Would you like to be one of our delegates? Please nominate yourself by email to Cardiff UCU’s paid organizer SBuffard@ucu.org.uk.

Nominations close on Weds 19 Feb at 4pm.

Motions for UCU Congress 2020

At congress every year, members and branches are able to influence the future direction of the Union by submitting “motions” about any aspect of UCU’s work. In the past Cardiff members have submitted motions on issues as diverse as: how the Union is run democratically, equalities issues, the future direction of disputes and industrial action, the Union’s campaigning priorities, and much more.

The branch is currently inviting motions for national UCU Congress 2020 which will take place in Bournemouth Wednesday 27 – Friday 29 May. Each branch is entitled to submit 1 motion (excluding rule motions, to which no limit applies).

Please submit any proposed motions by email to ucu@cardiff.ac.uk by Weds 12 Feb at noon to allow us time to call a general meeting ahead of the submission deadline so that it can be considered, and voted on, by Cardiff members.

Book Launch: Stolen, by Grace Blakely, 7th Feb, 6pm

Grace Blakeley’s book, STOLEN, will be launched in Cardiff on Friday 7 February 2020; 6pm at the Glamorgan Building. You’ll have a chance to meet the author, and ask questions in a debate chaired by a great friend and supporter of Cardiff UCU, the PCS’s Shavannah Taj.

Delayed by the calling of the General Election, the launching of this book remains a major contribution to the debate about economics and power in Britain today.

Here is a Twitter link to an interview with the author:

https://twitter.com/graceblakeley/status/1199345085239816192?s=12&fbclid=IwAR3XHQt0w8cwbml38Q-hUMx6DXoRsz7n7oHDSIQH1RwFhGN2AiGPfv1MpjI;

and here’s a Facebook link where people should register their interest in attending the launch:

https://www.facebook.com/events/476734312982080/ .

Tackling the Climate Emergency in Cardiff: Panel Discussion, Thursday 30th January, 6.15pm – 8pm, National Assembly for

Hope for the Future (HFTF) work to equip communities, campaigners and groups across the country to communicate the urgency of climate change with their local politicians. This event will address the questions:

  • How is the Welsh Government approaching the climate crisis?
  • How can you hold your elected representatives to account on climate change?
  • How can you get involved?

Panellists will include:

The discussion will be chaired by Sarah Robinson, Deputy Director of Hope for the Future. Please register on the Eventbrite page if you’d like to attend.

Further legal guidance from UCU: action short of a strike (ASOS), “voluntary duties”, and how to refuse them

UCU General Secretary Jo Grady this week released the following guidance:
“Following our strike action in higher education branches last year, UCU members have been taking ASOS. A number of you have asked me how you can use ASOS to help the union achieve its objectives, and specifically which ‘voluntary duties’ we are asking you not to perform. UCU has now produced detailed, updated guidance based on legal advice about the range of activities you may be able to refuse to undertake.
Industrial disputes are about more than picket lines and there are plenty of other ways you can join in and increase our leverage. This guidance should allow you to take a more expansive approach to ASOS and increase the pressure on employers to address the issues which we are in dispute over.

In particular, we are asking you to withdraw, where possible, from activities relating to the REF, TEF, the new Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), and the National Student Survey (NSS). 

These activities are important to employers but they damage our sector. They rely on inappropriate metrics of ‘quality’ that create perverse incentives and prevent us from doing the front line teaching, research and professional services work that really matters. Exercises like the REF tend to increase our workloads, waste money that could be invested in staff, and exacerbate our anxiety and insecurity by subjecting us to unfair, unhelpful performance management procedures. Often our involvement in these activities is voluntary. It’s time to challenge the unsustainable ‘goodwill economy’ which our employers depend on to make them work.

Please talk to your colleagues and fellow members about the activities you are withdrawing from and publicise what you are doing as much as possible via social media, using the #UCUASOS hashtag.”