Author Archives: UCU - University and College Union

Defending casual workers:

Cardiff UCU elected officers, activists and branch members are working, often behind the scenes and with limited resources, to defend our members against attacks on our rights and working conditions.

Cardiff UCU is very concerned that the University is failing to renew so many fixed-term staff positions.

The scale of cost savings required is yet to be properly evidenced or determined, and we continue to argue that cuts in staff costs should be the last resort.

If you are a staff member on a permanent contract and would like to help us resist cuts to casual workers, or a casual worker whose contract or job is under threat, join our Cardiff UCU Anti-Casualisation working group by simply replying to this message.

Our Cardiff UCU negotiators are meeting with University management today and we will update you on the progress of negotiations next week.

National UCU Activists Meeting:

National UCU Activists Meeting 10.00-11.30am, Saturday 4th July

This Saturday, there is a National UCU Activists Meeting. The following message is written in solidarity by Roddy Slorach (Imperial UCU).

The aim of the meeting is to help provide activists with the tools and resources we need to build effective resistance to the escalating attacks we face across all areas of post-16 education.

AGENDA (all timings approximate)

10.00 – 10.10 Introductions / welcome by Vicky Blake (UCU President)

10.10 – 10.20 Updates from branches with upcoming industrial action ballots

10.20 – 10.50 Breakout sessions

10.50 – 11.05 Speakers from Tower Hamlets Unison strike / #CoronaContract campaign / National Education Union

11.05 – 11.30 Closing plenary and action points

Discussion will focus on questions such as:

·       How can we use health and safety laws to defend working conditions?

·       How best to respond when an employer announces job cuts?

·       How can we have effective physical protests?

·       How to build a GTVO campaign during lockdown?

·       How can we build solidarity with branches on strike?

REGISTER NOW HERE 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email explaining how to join the meeting.

 The statement endorsed at last Thursday’s rally calls on the UCU’s national leadership to organise an emergency online all-members meeting immediately. If you haven’t already done so, please do sign and share the statement as widely as possible.

This event is open to members of all trade unions in post-16 education, so feel free to share this invite with other activists. We look forward to seeing you at the meeting on Saturday.

Challenges and successes of trade unionism: NSSN Conference 4th July

You may be interested in the National Shop Stewards Network Conference, also this Saturday 4th July (and slightly overlapping the National UCU Activists meeting).

Established by Bob Crow, the NSSN brings together shop stewards and reps from all over the UK to discuss the challenges and successes of trade unionism. The conferences are excellent gatherings in which to swap experiences and discuss strategy.

This year’s annual conference will take place via Zoom starting at 11am. It will consist of a two-hour main session followed by separate workshops. You can register in advance if you wish by emailing  info@shopstewards.net

The link to join the Zoom meeting is here

You can find and share the Facebook event here

Response to the VC’s email

In his email sent on the 4th of June at 13:40, Vice-Chancellor Riordan wrote that management was talking to the campus unions ‘about voluntary reductions in salary or a collective agreement to reduce salary levels on a temporary basis’. He also hinted at even more unpalatable alternatives, likely compulsory redundancies.

We would like to reassure members that we have not agreed to any salary reductions.

The Cardiff UCU executive committee – along with the other campus unions Unite and Unison – received the university’s written proposals to save money two days ago (3rd of June) when we were sent the papers for the next Joint Consultative and Negotiating Forum (JCNF), which is due to meet on Wednesday 10th of June. The paper outlines the proposals mentioned by the VC in his email. They are very unpalatable, and we do not deem these plans acceptable.

Your branch negotiators have been attending weekly consultative meeting between management and the campus unions to discuss working conditions during the crisis. Within these meetings management have made references to the University’s dire financial situation and asked us to present ideas to address the situation. We requested detailed financial information and specific meetings to discuss this: two meetings have been held (22/05 and 29/05), where the university presented its financial projections for the 2021/22 academic year.

We are extremely concerned by management’s proposals. We are pushing for every possible avenue to be explored – including the reduction of non-staffing costs and the use of reserves – before contemplating reductions in pay or compulsory redundancies. The executive committee of the branch meets for an emergency meeting on the 5th of June to discuss the situation further.

We appreciate that the VC’s email will have caused distress and we would like to reiterate that we have not agreed to any salary reductions. As always, please contact the branch office or your local rep if you would like to feedback to us.

Management Refuse to Compensate Staff for Homeworking Costs

Our Cardiff UCU negotiators urged the University Executive Board (UEB) to agree to compensate staff for additional costs – electricity, heating, broadband – associated with working from home.

According to HMRC guidelines employers could reimburse staff £6 per week, and such payments would be non-taxable.

However, Cardiff University management have declined to show this gesture of good will, and instead have pointed out that staff can instead reclaim such costs from their tax bill. Unfortunately, this approach means that our most vulnerable members, i.e. those earning below the tax threshold, will not be able to claim any compensation.

We are also disappointed with management’s refusal to provide any assistance or guidance to staff on how to claim these tax benefits. We refer members to Martin Lewis’ blog for more information on how to proceed with claiming costs from HMRC

USS Divest from Tobacco, Fossil Fuel and Armaments Industries

USS announces significant divestment from the Tobacco, Fossil Fuels and Armaments industries.

We would like to congratulate the members of Cardiff UCU who have worked hard to persuade UCU to divest from these industries over many years.

The announcement doesn’t go as far as many of us would like; the divestment is only partial and the reasons cited are financial, rather than ethical.

But this divestment does reverse the longheld position of USS against divestment and sets an important precedent for the future.

Cardiff UCU’s Statement On Black Lives Matter:

Cardiff UCU acknowledges that our branch leadership is not as racially diverse as we would like. We would like to invite all colleagues to get involved and would particularly welcome colleagues from diverse racial backgrounds. In turn, we pledge to act as anti-racist allies and to work with members across our branch to address issues without placing the burden on people of colour. We believe that diverse teams make the best decisions and seek to support and develop those teams in all parts of our branch.

 

We recognise that whilst the recent disclosures of racism in the school of dentistry will have shocked some members, for others this news just draws fresh attention to longstanding issues that are part of their lived experiences. We are committed to providing support to members who are experiencing (or have experienced) workplace racism. Cardiff UCU is also committed to improving the working environment at Cardiff University for staff of diverse ethnic and racial heritage. Although this is an area that we have been trying to be more active in, we acknowledge that progress has been slow, and we must do more.

 

In order to achieve this we will work with Cardiff University – seeking collaboration but also pushing and challenging the university where appropriate. Cardiff UCU also encourages all members to equip themselves to recognise and respond to discriminatory behaviour. In addition to sessions on ‘Holding Conversations about Race’ with  Susan Cousins during anti-racism week in February this year, we are funding two UCU members to attend Dr Muna Abdi’s two-day workshop “Becoming Anti-Racist Educators” and are planning to deliver/promote more anti-racist training opportunities in the future.

Update on Cardiff UCU Negotiations with Management (11 June 2020)

Yesterday, Cardiff UCU engaged in negotiations with senior University management on University finances. Negotiations are ongoing and the campus Unions (UCU, Unison, Unite) will meet again with management next week. UCU continues to defend our members – putting jobs first, resisting staff cuts, and protecting casual workers. UCU is working well and closely with the other campus unions.

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.