Category Archives: Pensions Campaign

Reply to our open letter from the VC

We sent an open letter to the Vice Chancellor of Cardiff University, Colin Riordan, on 26 February.

On 2 March we received the following reply:

Dear signatories

With reference to your open letter of 26 February, our input on a potential offer to the UCU was not solicited by 3pm on that day and we have not had any such approach since then. You will be aware that UUK in November made an offer in line with the recommendations of JEP1, to show good will and in an attempt to avoid industrial action. The offer was rejected by UCU even though the Joint Expert Panel has three UCU-appointed experts as members.

Recently we completed our response to the consultation on JEP2 and this will be published on our website in due course. As with JEP1, we have worked closely with our own Cardiff University panel of experts on this response, which is supportive of the work and recommendations of the second report from the Joint Expert Panel.

Please see my email to staff and my email to students for more detail on a possible resolution to the dispute.

Yours

Colin Riordan

Is-Ganghellor/ Vice-Chancellor

Prifysgol Caerdydd/ Cardiff University

Open Letter to the VC on UUK Consultation

The following open letter was sent today to Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University from the Executive of Cardiff University and College Union, Cardiff Students’ Union, and Cardiff Students Support the Strike

Dear Professor Riordan,

We are writing to urge you to use your voice today to push for a swift and constructive end to the current industrial action over pensions that is so painful for our students, our staff, and our institution.

On the 19th February, you were asked by Universities UK (UUK) whether or not you wanted to make an enhanced offer with regards to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), an offer that could have averted this action. No offer was made.  Indeed, UUK reported that 84% of Vice-Chancellors voted against extending a new offer.

We understand that before 3pm today, 26 February 2020, UUK will be soliciting your input on a potential offer to the UCU.

We request that you:

  • Tell UUK today that you want to offer UCU negotiators a USS contribution rate that they can recommend to their union, so that this dispute can be settled.
  • Reveal to Cardiff University students and staff how you are responding today and have done in the past to UUK consultations

Today is your chance to contribute to an end to the industrial action by telling UUK that this time you want to present an offer.  UUK can only resolve this dispute if Vice-Chancellors like you tell them that you want them to do it.   As you have said so many times, we need to find a solution.  Today, UUK needs to hear from you.  This is your chance to do something!

Yours,

The Executive of Cardiff University and College Union
Cardiff Students’ Union
Cardiff Students Support the Strike

Members may be interested to note the following additional information.

UCU negotiators cannot and will not accept unaffordable USS contribution rates, because:

  • Some staff have already been forced out of the USS pension scheme altogether, having to sacrifice dignity in retirement for financial security, and more likely will be.
  • It is the lowest-paid staff – disproportionately female and BAME – would be most threatened by unaffordable rise in rates.
  • Such opting-out would in turn undermine the long-term stability of the scheme, which UUK claims is a great concern to them and to the USS trustees.
  • For staff who decide to stay in the scheme, rate rises would further reduce their monthly net pay, which has already fallen one-fifth on average in real terms (a matter subject to a related dispute).
  • Again, it is women and BAME staff remaining in the scheme would be affected disproportionately harshly.
  • An unattractive employment package – pension combined with pay and workload – will deter excellent scholars from joining Cardiff University in future, harming this institution in far into the future.

The JEP was an agreed by UUK, USS and the UCU as a means of finding agreement on the pension valuation.  To ignore its findings and recommendations is bad faith and bad science.  The dismissal of both the JEP’s report and Professor Jane Hutton has further undermined UCU trust in USS governance.

Action Short of a Strike (ASOS) guidance and bilingual automatic email notification:

We have collated info about how to engage with, and sustain, our current Action Short of a Strike (ASOS)

Members’ observation of ASOS is going to be very important to our success in the current dispute. “Working to contract” is an especially powerful tool, given that one of the things we’re striking about are the mental health effects of unsustainable workloads. One powerful way of our members can signal their continued ASOS is by using an automatic reply to all emails to let the receiver know what’s going on, and what this might mean for them.
We encourage members to use or adapt this one:

Diolch am eich e-bost.
Rwy’n gweithio i gontract fel rhan o weithred sy’n brin o streic UCU dros gynllun pensiwn yr USS a’n tâl a’n hamodau. Mae hyn yn golygu mai dim ond yr oriau y telir amdanynt y byddaf yn gweithio (37 awr yr wythnos) ac na fyddaf yn gweithio gyda’r nos nac ar benwythnosau – ac felly efallai y bydd oedi yn fy ymateb i’ch e-bost.
Disgwylir y bydd aelodau UCU yn ‘gweithio i gontract’ tan Ebrill 2020. I darganfod mwy darllenwch yr erthygly fyr hon gan Ysgrifennydd Cyffredinol UCU, Dr. Jo Grady, neu gwyliwch y fideo NUS-UCU ar y cyd hon.
Cysylltwch â’r Is-Ganghellor Colin Reardon i ddarganfod pa gamau y mae’r Brifysgol yn eu cymryd i osgoi anghydfod. Gallwch anfon e-bost ato yma: v-c@cardiff.ac.uk
Dymuniadau gorau

******

Thank you for your email.
I am working to contract as part of UCU’s action short of a strike over the USS pension scheme and our pay and conditions. This means that I will only be working the hours that I am paid for (37 hours per week) and will not be working in the evenings or at the weekends -and so there may be a delay in my response to your email.

It is expected that UCU members will be ‘working to contract’ until April 2020. To find out more you can read this short article by UCU General Secretary, Dr. Jo Grady, or watch this joint NUS-UCU video.

Please do contact Vice-Chancellor Colin Reardon to find out what steps the University is taking to avoid a dispute. You can email him here: v-c@cardiff.ac.uk

Information on Action Short of Strike (ASOS):

The focus is now on Action short of Strike (ASOS) and keeping pressure on Cardiff University by working to contract. Under the ASOS mandate UCU asks members to:

  • work to contract
  • not cover for absent colleagues
  • not reschedule lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action
  • not undertake any voluntary activities.

It is worth familiarising yourself with the extensive guidance on ASOS on the UCU action centre webpage:

Strike Information for Students

We have a set of slides with information for students (as a PowerPoint which includes notes pages with explanation, and also in a PDF version). We suggest UCU members explain the strike action to their students in lectures and seminars. This helps to encourage student support for striking staff. Continue reading

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