Category Archives: Pay Campaign

TWO active strike ballots in January/February: Vote early, vote twice, and vote “YES”

As you know from these updates, we’re currently facing two active strike ballots (see our new year appeal to action, and in our flyer):

  • One locally (postal vote: 1st-22nd Feb), with the simple demand of “No Compulsory Redundancies” at Cardiff University, which is about challenging the brutal cuts Transforming Cardiff will inflict on us. Let’s match the huge efforts of other local branches (e.g. Queen Margaret in Scotland) facing similar cuts, and defend our jobs; and
  • One nationally, which is about addressing the inter-related scandals of stagnating and unequal pay, casualisation and the rise of McUniversity working conditions, and the mental-health effects of unsustainable workloads (postal vote 15th Jan-22nd Feb – you should all have your ballot papers for this one already, either in work or at home). More info in this flyer from UCU nationally.

What can you do to help? The biggest challenge we face as a branch is in getting out the vote so we can meet the 50% threshold for action, so please make some time to do some of the following:

  • Join our new dispute committee, which will guide our strategy and campaigning in these disputes, and is open to all members (existing department reps especially welcome/needed). The next dispute committee meeting is on Tuesday 22nd January, 1pm-2pm, in the John Percival Building, room 1.29A;
  • Attend local UCU meetings (the next General Meeting is 23rd January, 1.20pm, Glamorgan Building, Committee Rm 1).
  • Attend the All-Staff meetings we’ll be holding along with the other campus unions Unite and Unison in the coming weeks and months to raise awareness and build resistance: Next All-Staff meeting is on Wed 30th January, 12.30pm, Birt Acres Lecture Theatre, Bute Building, King Edward VII Ave – speakers include Ron Leach (Unite), Katie Hall (Unison), and Cardiff UCU Exec members;
  • Come to our weekly Monday-lunchtime “Resist Transforming Cardiff” gatherings, 12-1pm in the foyer of the Main Building on Park Place to learn more about the current disputes, chat with colleagues, show solidarity, and get involved;
  • Discuss, share, and publicly complain about the ballots and the issues we’re campaigning on. These emails aren’t read by all members, so we need to be vocal in getting the message out face-to-face and digitally. If you’re on social media share our Facebook and Twitter posts, and write about the issues (use the hashtags #WeAreTheUniversity and #VoteYesYes or post photos of you posting your ballot paper under the Twitter hashtag #HowDidYouPostYours).
  • Join our Get The Vote Out activities – in the coming weeks the Dispute Committee will be organising door-knocking and phone-banking initiatives to make sure we contact all members personally (more details to follow);
  • Update your member details (workplace, correspondence address, etc) on the UCU website, so you can be sure of getting your postal ballot cards, and if you haven’t got the first ballot paper already, contact to look into why); and finally,
  • Vote, vote, vote: We recommend you vote “YES” to Strike Action and ASOS in *both* ballots, but even if you disagree, please vote. Abstaining offers tacit support to the punitive, anti-union 50% threshold for industrial action.

Cardiff UCU Members: A New Year Appeal to Action

We begin 2019 in very turbulent times.

We are at a low-point in the marketisation of UK Higher Education and we face numerous and related challenges: unprecedented attacks on pensions, jobs, and pay; stifling and intransigent managerialism; rising inequality (between male and female staff, senior managers and the rank and file, as well as permanent and precariously-employed workers); endemic casualisation and the spread of gig-economy style working conditions; and sky-rocketing workloads (with a consequent creeping mental health crisis among colleagues).

But we’re also at a high-point in resisting all of this. Although they were emotionally and physically bruising and exhausting, the struggles of 2018 unified and strengthened us. Our collective understanding of these problems has never been clearer. The UCU, both locally and nationally, is bigger, stronger, more active, more democratic, and more able to fight back than ever before.

Please read our important updates below, inform yourself of the evidence behind our planned actions, read what you can do to join in, and ready yourselves for a year of solidarity and struggle.

The union makes us strong; the University belongs to us.

The Cardiff UCU Executive Committee

Our jobs are at risk: Vote for local action to empower your negotiators to save them

As you know from our newsletters before the winter break, Cardiff UCU has declared an Industrial Dispute over the danger of compulsory redundancies associated with the “Transforming Cardiff” cost-cutting exercise.

Our jobs are under threat, and the only effective way we can protect them is to have an active mandate for industrial action ready when/if compulsory job cuts are announced later in the year.

We have now received authorisation for a postal ballot for local Strike Action and Action Short of a Strike (ASOS) between 1st-22nd February 2019.

We will do *everything* we can to avoid industrial action over this issue, but without the threat of local resistance we’ll have little leverage to do protect our jobs.

This local ballot period will overlap with a second national strike ballot on the issues of Pay, Equality, and Casualisation (see below).

The evidence against “Transforming Cardiff”

As you know, “Transforming Cardiff” is a restructuring exercise being carried out at Cardiff University. At its core lies the third voluntary severance scheme in under 6 years, and the danger of compulsory redundancies in the future.

As well as declaring the dispute discussed above, we have also found that the whole cost-cutting exercise is rooted in sustained mismanagement and misleading analysis.

The USS strikes taught us that our Union is strongest when combining expert analysis and evidence with unified industrial action, sour expert Finance Working Group has been looking in detail at the Uni’s accounts, as well as its case for cutting costs and shedding staff. Based on our findings, we’ve asked management to pause the whole scheme, to take stock, and address our evidence-based concerns.

This (12-minute) video summarises our analysis in detail.You can also find our analysis in text form, or check our shorter (4-minute) summary video here.

National Postal Ballot: Pay, equality, and casualisation, 15th January-22nd February

Last November we, along with most other UCU HE branches, narrowly missed out on reaching the 50% threshold for members voting in a ballot for industrial action over stagnating/equal pay and the scourge of casualisation. A special UCU HE Sector Conference agreed to re-ballot members on the same issue, but using an aggregate ballot (which takes the UCU HE membership as a whole, rather than workplace by workplace). Postal ballots will be sent out to your work or home address between 15th January and 22nd February.

When we voted on this last year, in Cardiff we achieved a turnout of 44%, which is the highest ever for a dispute over pay. But it’s not enough. We urge you again to vote early, and vote “Yes” for strike action and for ASOS.

Check out our FAQ on the issues, and please read our members’ Rowan Campbell and Steven Stanley‘s persuasive accounts of why action is needed, and why you should vote for it. You can also check out this video piece about casualisation at Cardiff from BBC Wales Today, which covers the work of Cardiff UCU’s Anti-Casualisation Working Group (health warning: highly misleading claims are included from the employers about the proportion of staff on secure contracts).

If you didn’t vote last time, please do so this time

  • Not voting plays into the hands of the architects of the punitive 50% threshold for strike action – please do not tacitly support this regressive, anti-union law by abstaining;
  • Yes, this is about pay, but arguably more important are the issues of inequality and casualisation. Marginalised and precariously-employed University workers stood with more established colleagues in (often selfless) union to protect our pensions last year;
  • If you are in secure employment and wavering about this vote, now is the time to stand together and repay this solidarity.

Take Action: How to help resist these cuts, protect our jobs, improve pay and conditions, and make the University a more equal employer?

  1. Update your member details (workplace, correspondence address, etc) on the UCU website, so you can be sure of getting your postal ballot cards;
  2. Vote, vote, vote: vote early (don’t put it off): please vote Yes to Strike Action and ASOS in both ballots; give our local and national negotiators a strong mandate and real leverage;
  3. Discuss, share, and raise concerns about the issues and the evidence/analysis in the videos above (as well as the posters and flyers we circulate). When you hear colleagues expressing fear, concern, or unease, persuade them to join the UCU, and follow up with an email to show them how to sign up;
  4. A good place to do do this will be our regular Monday-lunchtime “Resist Transforming Cardiff” gatherings in the foyer of the Main Building on Park Place (see also the attached flyer). Come along for an informal opportunity to chat, learn, organise, engage, and show solidarity.
  5. Attend local UCU meetings (the next General Meeting is 23rd January, 1.20pm, Glamorgan Building, Committee Rm 1) as well as the all-staff meetings we’ll be holding in the coming weeks and months;
  6. Join our new dispute committee, which will guide our strategy and campaigning in these disputes, and is open to all members. The next meeting will be held in the John Perceval Building, room 1.31, 1pm-2pm, Monday 15th January.


Re-ballot on the Pay, Casualisation, & Equality Dispute

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.

HE Pay and Equality ballot results

Despite the hard work of those campaigning to get the vote out in the recent ballot, and the vote being in favour of action, only 7 institutions exceed the 50% turnout threshold required under anti-trade union laws. Nevertheless, 44% of members at Cardiff participated in the vote, which, as far as collective memory serves, is the highest participation rate in a ballot over pay that the Branch has had. Enormous thanks to those reps who worked so hard to achieve this. The full results of the ballot can be found on the UCU website. The results and next steps will now be considered by the Union’s Higher Education Committee.

Cardiff UCU Member Meeting report

We held an open members’ meeting this Wednesday which was well-attended & lively.
We had excellent contributions about the current Pay, Equality, and Pracarity ballot from Executive committee members:

We also talked about how you, as members can help campaign on this issue by attending school-level meetings, knocking on doors with your dep reps, and just talking with colleagues about the pressing issues we’re fighting on.

We also agreed to support today’s strike in the fast food industry.

Key Points: Strike Ballot on Pay, Casualization, and Equality

The main points boil down to:

  • We’re being balloted on strike and non-strike action along with all other UK UCU and Unison members, on the pressing issues of stagnant pay, equality (including the gender pay gap) and casualization. Read about this in more detail.
  • If you haven’t voted yet, the UCU nationally and at Cardiff are recommending you vote “Yes” to strike action and action short of a strike. We’ve produced an FAQ. If you’ve got any questions not answered here please email them to and we’ll add them to the list.
  • If you haven’t had your postal ballot paper, threw it out by accident, or lost it under a pile of stuff, you can request a new one – the closing date’s approaching (19th Oct), so do this soon!
  • Please log in, and update all your details, on the My UCU website (you’ll need your UCU number & your password) – if we take industrial action and this info is incorrect (even if you have an old workplace listed, or your School/division’s name has changed the employers can take legal action and have the strike declared illegal). This is super important.

Together We Can Win: Vote “Yes” to action on pay, equality, and fighting the McUniversity

The following is from talk given at yesterday’s members’ meeting by Steven Stanley, Cardiff UCU Executive Committee member. Follow Steven on Twitter @dr_stevestanley.

This is my 15th year as a lecturer here at Cardiff and I joined the executive committee this year following the strike. I’ve been thinking about how the current UCU campaign and ballot over Pay & Equality links to the pensions dispute. Continue reading

Vote for action on pay, casualization & equality

If we hadn’t gone on strike we’d have lost our DB pensions by now. The JEP report shows that when we stand together, we’re strong and we can win.

The strike also reminded us that pensions are only part of what’s wrong with our Universities. As we stood on the pickets, debated in meetings, and came together in teach-outs we also realised that we share a common opposition to the scourges of casualization, inequality, over-work and unpaid overtime. As you know, UCU members are currently being balloted on strike and non-strike action on all of these issues in the pay and equality campaign. Continue reading