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.

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

Cardiff UCU executive committee – ballot now open

The Cardiff UCU ballot is now open to elect our branch president and chair for the 2020-21 academic year.

Please check your inboxes! You should have received by email a personalised link this morning (Tues 3 March) from yoursay@ucu.org.uk. Follow the link to read the candidates’ election statements and cast your vote.

If you have not received a link, please check your spam folder and if it is not there please email Ed Bailey.

The ballot will run for two weeks, closing at noon on 17 March. The results will be announced at the AGM on 18 March.

An appeal for strike solidarity to Welsh unions, political parties, branches, and individuals

For the third time in two years, tens of thousands of staff at 74 UK Universities are striking to defend their pensions and improve pay and conditions, which have deteriorated beyond belief in the last decade.

UCU members beat the punitive 50% threshold for action with convincing mandates to strike to prevent the erosion of our USS pensions, as well as to improve our pay, unhealthy workloads, gig-economy style precarious working conditions, and pay inequality.

In response to our members successfully defending their USS pensions in 2018, the pension trustee, along with our employers, are trying a different tactic: to incrementally increase contribution rates until the scheme becomes so unattractive to new members it becomes truly unsustainable. UCU’s own expert analysis, confirmed by the independent body set up after the USS Strike last year (the Joint Expert Panel, or JEP), shows that the scheme is currently healthy, and just needs to be valued more appropriately. This is purely an attempt to save money and run the current scheme down.

This time, we’re also striking on further pressing issues. As well as a convincing mandate for action on pensions, we are now striking to improve:

  • Our pay (which has fallen 20% in value in 10 years);
  • Unsustainable and unhealthy workloads, which are fuelling a creeping mental health crisis among University staff (we all know colleagues leaving the profession because of stress, going off sick, and even in some tragic cases taking their own lives);
  • Insecure employment in Universities (more than half of all staff are employed on casual contracts, zero-hours contracts persist, and most PhD student members who teach are not even recognised as employees, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation, with little employment protection); and
  • Pay inequality in Universities (where the gender pay gap is currently 15%, the BME pay gap is a disgrace, and where inflated senior management salaries are incredibly high – e.g. the VC at Cardiff earns more than £250,000 in basic pay, even before considerable perks and bonuses).

Our programme of Cardiff strike events can be found here.

All supporters are welcome at any of these.

What can Welsh Unions, political parties, branches, and individuals do to support our striking workers?

  • Encourage people to attend our mass rallies and bring Union/Party branch banners (Thursday 5th and 12th March, 11am, Alexandra Gardens/Cathays Park);
  • Come to our picket lines and support us in building and sustaining the strike (8.30am-11am, outside key University buildings, go to the Main Building picket on Park Place for guidance);
  • Come to our rallies, give speeches, play music, sing, and resist (every day apart from 5th and 12th, outside the Main Building, Park Place, 11am);
  • Send messages of support from your unions/parties nationally or locally to UCU@Cardiff.ac.uk or post them on Twitter mentioning @cardiffUCU and @UCU;
  • Donate to our local Cardiff strike fund, which will target those who are paid least and employed most precariously to help us to keep this strike solid (payment details below).
  • If you’d like us to come and give an update about our strike at a Union meeting to give mutual solidarity with your own struggles please just ask – we’d be very happy for the chance.

To donate to our local Cardiff strike hardship fund, please use the following options:

Our GoFundMe crowd-funding page.

Bank transfer:

Name: UCU Cardiff LA12 Fighting Fund
Account No.: 20341260
Bank Sort code: 608301
Bank: Unity Trust Bank

Send cheques to:

Cardiff University and College Union
49b Park Place
Cardiff
CF10 3AT

Cardiff UCU contact details

 

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.

Mass resignation of external examiners at UK Universities: How to join in

You may have seen the news this week about a group of UK senior academics, all of them UCU members, resigning from their external examiner duties at UK Universities in protest over the system-wide failure to deal with staffing problems and associated issues such as casualisation and workload. You can read about their action in the Guardian, here. The full letter from the group can be found here.

Mass resignations of external examiners were an important supplementary part of forcing an end to our 2018 pensions dispute, but this is the first time that members have used the tactic this time around. It has the potential to very disruptive, and a useful addition to the more established forms of industrial action we’re taking such as strike action and action short of a strike (ASOS).

Their statement reads: “We are refusing to act as external examiners because although we believe that this role is crucial in underpinning the quality of education provided to students, so too is the need to provide fair pay, pensions and job security for those who work in universities.”
“It is long past time for universities to address these festering problems, and we believe we have a responsibility to staff at the start of their careers to make a stand now. Please join us by resigning external examiner posts and refusing to take on new contracts until universities take action to address these issues.”

After lots of members asking for guidance on how to follow suit, UCU has since provided guidance to members on how to do so, and have also included a very useful draft resignation letter to institutions where you do external examining work.

If you do heed the call of these colleagues, and resign your post as an external examiner, please email the branch office at UCU@cardiff.ac.uk so we can keep a record of how many of our members are doing this, and if you make any statements about your action on social media, please tag in the branch account so we can help boost your signal.

Members with queries about this should contact UCU’s Matt Waddup for help on: mwaddup@ucu.org.uk.

Call for nominations to the Cardiff UCU branch Executive Committee: 2020-21

In a very real sense the Union is powered by its members, and is only as effective if an active, informed, and engaged membership steps up to fill the voluntary posts which keep our Union going.

The Cardiff UCU branch Executive Committee co-ordinates the work of the branch between general meetings, negotiating with management, planning strategy, and generally keeping the show on the road. And we could use your help!

Nominations for next year’s Branch executive committee are now open. There are a range of officer positions and 8 ordinary member roles which allow you to ease in gently and make a valuable contribution to the Branch however big or small. All positions are up for election, some of the current committee will be standing down while others are running again. You can stand for more than one position (though if you are successfully elected to a position, votes for any others will be discarded).

You would be taking up the role in September, so there is time for a handover period, and time is allowed for the work through our facilities agreement with the University.
Have a word with any current member of the exec if you’d like to know more about what’s involved, and then download your nomination paper and send it in to Sally at the office or at SBuffard@ucu.org.uk.

Nominations close on Weds 19 Feb at 4pm.

Call for Delegates to UCU Congress 2020

We are inviting nominations to the national UCU Congress 2020 which will take place in Bournemouth Wednesday 27 – Friday 29 May. Accommodation and travel & subsistence expenses will be provided.

Delegates to Congress, which is the main democratic decision-making forum for our Union, can come from rank and file members, as well as those who are more active already in local branch work.

Would you like to be one of our delegates? Please nominate yourself by email to Cardiff UCU’s paid organizer SBuffard@ucu.org.uk.

Nominations close on Weds 19 Feb at 4pm.