Category Archives: Anti-Casualisation Campaign

UCU Strike 2019: Summary of key issues

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at sixty universities in the UK, including Cardiff University, will be engaging in a wave of 8 days of strike action from Monday 25th November to Wednesday 4th December followed by ‘action short of a strike’ which involves strictly working to contract, not covering for absent colleagues, and refusing to reschedule lectures lost during the strike action. Continue reading

Historic mandates in Strike Ballots:

The results of the “four fights” and USS ballots amount to an overwhelming vote for industrial action, a clear mandate for our negotiators, and a clear message from staff to employers.

Cardiff UCU would like to thank the small but tireless team of local reps for their work campaigning to get the vote out, as well as our broader membership who voted so convincingly in favour of action to improve our Universities.

We’d also like to apologise to our members for hounding you about voting so regularly for the last month, and to thank you for your patience. It’s essential that as many of us vote as possible, and a steady stream of door-knocks, personal phone calls, and emails are the only tools we have at our disposal to do so.

Nationally, in the pay ballot, a record 55 post-92 and pre-92 branches are in a position to take industrial action, with a higher overall turnout (49%) and a larger yes vote (74%) than ever before. In the USS ballot, 43 branches are in a position to take action, with an even higher yes vote of 79% and an overall turnout of 53%.

At Cardiff, because of your collective resolve we met the punitive, anti-union, 50% threshold in both ballots, with a resounding vote in favour of strike action and ASOS in both too.

Although none of us want to go on strike again, this vote shows that most of us feel the sector needs to change. UCU nationally has called on employers to return to negotiations immediately. In the meantime, the union will plan for the next phase of each dispute. UCU’s higher education committee will meet shortly to discuss the results and consider our next steps, including the nature, timing, and scale of industrial action.

Guardian coverage here.

UCU press release here.

An older, local Welsh news piece which interviews Cardiff UCU activists about the issues underpinning the strike votes is here.

Results of the Cardiff UCU branch vote in both ballots:

CARDIFF UCU PAY, CASUALISATION, EQUALITY & WORKLOADS BALLOT: Turnout 52%

ARE YOU PREPARED TO TAKE INDUSTRIAL ACTION CONSISTING OF STRIKE ACTION?

77% Yes – 23% No

ARE YOU PREPARED TO TAKE INDUSTRIAL ACTION CONSISTING OF ACTION SHORT OF STRIKE ACTION UP TO AND INCLUDING A MARKING AND ASSESSMENT BOYCOTT?

84% Yes – 16% No

CARDIFF UCU USS BALLOT: Turnout 52%

ARE YOU PREPARED TO TAKE INDUSTRIAL ACTION CONSISTING OF STRIKE ACTION?

82% Yes – 18% No

ARE YOU PREPARED TO TAKE INDUSTRIAL ACTION CONSISTING OF ACTION SHORT OF STRIKE ACTION UP TO AND INCLUDING A MARKING AND ASSESSMENT BOYCOTT?

88% Yes – 12% No

The full results for all local branches who voted can be found here

Monday 28th is your last chance to vote in the two active ballots:

There are only a few days left to have your say in the higher education ballots so please post your ballot paper by Monday 28 October at the very latest.

Voting now will improve the union’s bargaining position and empowers your negotiators. If we beat the 50% threshold for strike action we anticipate that the employers will seriously consider making us an offer before any action happens, because they will remember how effective last year’s strikes were. If we don’t, there is no realistic chance of us improving our lots in relation to pensions, pay, workload, casualisation, or equality. It really is that stark.

A strong turn-out in Cardiff specifically will also help the local branch in its on-going negotiations for improvements with Cardiff University. A weak one will have the opposite effect.

We as a union have democratically decided to encourage members to vote “Yes“ to strike action and ASOS in both ballots, but whatever you think about pay, pensions, job security or equality: please don’t leave it to others to speak for you. Please vote, and also remind your colleagues to vote by sharing this short video clip or by sharing this Facebook event

The New Ken Loach Film: Sorry We Missed you

To tie in with the film, Anti-Precarity Cymru and Cardiff UCU are running a creative workshop on the theme of organising and resisting casualised, zero-hours and exploitative work – join us for zine-making and other activities! This will be followed by a screening of the film, tickets for which must be purchased separately.  This event will be taking place Saturday 2 November 2-5pm, at Chapter Arts Centre, Market Rd, Canton, Cardiff CF5 1QE

The UCU’s demands in both active strike ballots:

We *know* that this info has been shared a lot, but we still have to point people in the direction of info like this.

You can find the campaign leaflet for the “Four Fights” ballot on pay, the gender pay gap, workload and casualisation here. It goes into good detail about the issues we face and the demands we’re making.

You can find the campaigning leaflet in defence of our USS pensions here.

If you’d like to hear from our national negotiators first-hand what they’re bargaining for on our behalf, and what a mandate for strike action could get us, then  watch this video, recorded at a Cardiff UCU event a couple of weeks ago.

For those of you who want to prioritize: first up is Sam Marsh (one of our pensions negotiators), talking about USS (00:00-13:00mins); then comes Robyn Orfitelli (one of our negotiators on pay, casualization, equality and workload) at 14:00-32:30mins; followed by a Q&A with both (32:30-40:11mins)).

Robyn (@rorfitelli, r.orfitelli@sheffield.ac.uk) and Sam (@sam_marsh101, S.J.Marsh@shef.ac.uk) have both kindly offered to take any questions from Cardiff members, either by email or on Twitter.

Still haven’t voted? Abstention is not an option!

A turnout under 50% of UCU members will invalidate the ballot, even if a majority of members vote in favour of action. This unusually restrictive anti-trade union law means it’s more important than ever to vote, even if you don’t support the action.

We strongly urge every member eligible to vote in the ballots to vote. Again, abstention is a direct attack on those who *do* want to have their say, so whatever you think about the issues, please vote.

Can I Afford to Go on Strike? The UCU strike funds

The UCU nationally has strike fund to help those most in need of assistance (see the recent email from Jo Grady about this), and we do at local level too. At Cardiff, we’re better prepared than ever to support striking members with a healthy solidarity fund which we’re building all the time. During the last strike UCU took extra care to support precariously employed members such as those on low incomes, PhD students, and Postdocs and we aim to do so again. We realise that hourly paid workers may have difficulty evidencing loss of pay and will take that into account.

While we hope that as many union members as possible do take part in industrial action it is also worth noting that voting “yes” now does not oblige you to strike later. If you are on the fence about this ballots please consider voting “yes” now anyway. Signalling that a high percentage of union members is willing to strike strengthens our negotiators’ position and will hopefully help us to resolve the dispute without industrial action becoming necessary.

We are currently planning a benefit gig to fund-raise for our local strike fund to be held in early December 2019. We’ve got a number of bands already willing to play for us, and when we’ve got a date and venue we’ll share the info!

Jo Grady, UCU General Secretary: Two talks in Cardiff, 22nd October

The new General Secretary of our Union will be visiting the University on 22nd October this year to talk with members about the two active ballots we face right now, as well as hold a separate session specifically about the issues faced by staff in insecure/precarious employment.

  • Defend Pensions, Pay, and Conditions: A Q&A with UCU General Secretary Jo Grady: 1-2pm, 22nd October 2019, Small Chemistry Lecture Theatre, Main Building, Park Place.

Find out about the issues behind our current struggles to defend our USS pensions, as well as the Union’s strategy in the “four fights” ballot. Bring your friends, along with an open mind and any questions. The session will be recorded and shared afterwards.

Meet with Jo and Cardiff UCU’s Anti-Casualisation Working Group to hear about the fight against gig-economy-style precarious labour in UK Universities, and find out what you can do to help.

This visit will be a cracking opportunity to chat with the Union’s new gaffer, find out her plans for UCU and the issues we face, as well as to hear about the aims behind the current strike ballots. You can read more about Jo in this recent Guardian profile.