The Cardiff UCU branch anti-casualisation working group are very pleased to report progress in our campaign for the work of post-graduate students who teach/demonstrate to be recognised as employment. The university’s management have agreed to set up a working group to explore the status of postgraduate researchers, tutors and demonstrators, and to explore the options that may be available in order to move towards a more clearly defined framework of employment.
This working group will allow close collaboration between UCU, our sister unions, the Students’ Union, and senior University management. It’s Cardiff UCU’s sincere hope that the work of this group will enable us to move towards contracted-employee status for this group. In the meantime, please read this fantastic resource that Cardiff Student Union’s Jake Smith (Vice-President Postgrad) has created to ensure that PGRs who teach are aware of their rights. Please pass it on to the students who teach on your modules, and check if there are any areas where your department does not meet the Code of Practice requirements. You can also read a more general guide to supporting PGRs.
The anti-precarity working group is collecting evidence to establish the nature and extend of the issues faced by our members in precarious work. Please help by completing our survey, which closes tomorrow, Friday February 15th.
Anti-Precarity Cymru, a campaigning group with close links to Cardiff UCU, has published a marvellous 2019 Calendar which you can print out and use in your workplace.
It’s a beautiful, moving, funny, and politically spiky object that’s a great way to raise awareness of casualisation and the McUniversity.
At a special HE sector conference on pay last month, UCU delegates agreed to re-ballot higher education members nationally for industrial action on the union’s claim around pay, equality and following the recent result of the first ballot. Conference decided that the new ballot would involve all branches, but this time on an aggregate basis (all results counted together, rather than branch-by-branch).
It has now been agreed that the new ballot will open on Monday 14 January 2019 and will close on Friday 22 February 2019. HEC also agreed that the same two questions posed in the recent disaggregate ballot will be asked in the new year aggregate ballot; do members support strike action and do members support action short of a strike up to and including a marking boycott. HEC delegated the formulation of the industrial action plan, which will include sustained strike action and Action Short of a Strike. More info can be found on the national UCU website.
Because of the local threats around redundancies we face, members in Cardiff will now be balloted twice in the New Year: once on the local issue of job losses, and once on the national issues of pay, casualization, and equality.
The Cardiff UCU local Dispute Committee will aim to co-ordinate our own strategies as much as possible with those of this on-going national dispute.
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 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.
Check the zines out for digital reading, or for printing.
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.
Members of the Common Room and Anti-Precarity Cymru (@CymruPrecarity) will be attending ‘Survival Strategies for Humanities Early Career Researchers’ – a two-day summit featuring a keynote by Prof Stefan Collini, author of What Are Universities For? and Speaking of Universities, in the Glamorgan Building at Cardiff University (17-18 November). The event includes a workshop with Cat Oakley and Sophie Jones, ‘From Survival to Solidarity’, which addresses themes of precarity and solidarity in the academy. This is a free event which does not require registration.
Frequently Asked Questions about the current ballot on taking action over pay & equality: Continue reading