Motions for UCU Congress 2020

At congress every year, members and branches are able to influence the future direction of the Union by submitting “motions” about any aspect of UCU’s work. In the past Cardiff members have submitted motions on issues as diverse as: how the Union is run democratically, equalities issues, the future direction of disputes and industrial action, the Union’s campaigning priorities, and much more.

The branch is currently inviting motions for national UCU Congress 2020 which will take place in Bournemouth Wednesday 27 – Friday 29 May. Each branch is entitled to submit 1 motion (excluding rule motions, to which no limit applies).

Please submit any proposed motions by email to ucu@cardiff.ac.uk by Weds 12 Feb at noon to allow us time to call a general meeting ahead of the submission deadline so that it can be considered, and voted on, by Cardiff members.

Book Launch: Stolen, by Grace Blakely, 7th Feb, 6pm

Grace Blakeley’s book, STOLEN, will be launched in Cardiff on Friday 7 February 2020; 6pm at the Glamorgan Building. You’ll have a chance to meet the author, and ask questions in a debate chaired by a great friend and supporter of Cardiff UCU, the PCS’s Shavannah Taj.

Delayed by the calling of the General Election, the launching of this book remains a major contribution to the debate about economics and power in Britain today.

Here is a Twitter link to an interview with the author:

https://twitter.com/graceblakeley/status/1199345085239816192?s=12&fbclid=IwAR3XHQt0w8cwbml38Q-hUMx6DXoRsz7n7oHDSIQH1RwFhGN2AiGPfv1MpjI;

and here’s a Facebook link where people should register their interest in attending the launch:

https://www.facebook.com/events/476734312982080/ .

Tackling the Climate Emergency in Cardiff: Panel Discussion, Thursday 30th January, 6.15pm – 8pm, National Assembly for

Hope for the Future (HFTF) work to equip communities, campaigners and groups across the country to communicate the urgency of climate change with their local politicians. This event will address the questions:

  • How is the Welsh Government approaching the climate crisis?
  • How can you hold your elected representatives to account on climate change?
  • How can you get involved?

Panellists will include:

The discussion will be chaired by Sarah Robinson, Deputy Director of Hope for the Future. Please register on the Eventbrite page if you’d like to attend.

Further legal guidance from UCU: action short of a strike (ASOS), “voluntary duties”, and how to refuse them

UCU General Secretary Jo Grady this week released the following guidance:
“Following our strike action in higher education branches last year, UCU members have been taking ASOS. A number of you have asked me how you can use ASOS to help the union achieve its objectives, and specifically which ‘voluntary duties’ we are asking you not to perform. UCU has now produced detailed, updated guidance based on legal advice about the range of activities you may be able to refuse to undertake.
Industrial disputes are about more than picket lines and there are plenty of other ways you can join in and increase our leverage. This guidance should allow you to take a more expansive approach to ASOS and increase the pressure on employers to address the issues which we are in dispute over.

In particular, we are asking you to withdraw, where possible, from activities relating to the REF, TEF, the new Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), and the National Student Survey (NSS). 

These activities are important to employers but they damage our sector. They rely on inappropriate metrics of ‘quality’ that create perverse incentives and prevent us from doing the front line teaching, research and professional services work that really matters. Exercises like the REF tend to increase our workloads, waste money that could be invested in staff, and exacerbate our anxiety and insecurity by subjecting us to unfair, unhelpful performance management procedures. Often our involvement in these activities is voluntary. It’s time to challenge the unsustainable ‘goodwill economy’ which our employers depend on to make them work.

Please talk to your colleagues and fellow members about the activities you are withdrawing from and publicise what you are doing as much as possible via social media, using the #UCUASOS hashtag.”

Progress in the Four Fights and USS disputes so far:

This week UCU General Secretary Jo Grady updated members on the progress made so far in negotiations forced by our recent strike action, as well as the anticipated future shape of our second wave of strike action this year. You can read the detailed report here.

You can also remind yourself of the UCU’s aims in the “Four Fights” part of the dispute here.

You may also want to remind yourself of the reasons we’ve been driven to strike action, as well as the achievements we’ve made so far, by watching some of the following speeches made by Cardiff UCU members during our recent strike rallies:

UCU activist meeting, London, 25th January, 11am-4pm: Organising for the 2nd wave of UCU strike action in 2020

Called by Goldsmiths UCU, Imperial UCU, Queen Mary UCU and UCL UCU. Organised by UCU London Region. More info here.
“Our union is on a war footing in Higher Education to defend pay and pensions, and to fight casualisation, rising workload and pay inequality. The first wave of HE strike action saw 60 universities strike for eight days over pay and pensions. Many more are now re-balloting. HE Sector Conference voted for 14 further strike days in the Spring Term and for branches to start strategic planning to hit the Summer Term.
Ordinary members are leading pickets and getting involved in their union with a gusto. We have a huge responsibility. This one-day meeting is organised to give reps from all over the UK, in FE and HE, a chance to meet to discuss how we can best defend our sector, how we can build our union and fight to win.”
Any union is strongest when it is led and informed by grassroots members rolling up their sleeves, informing themselves, and getting involved. This kind of national planning and discussion forum is essential to ensuring a strong voice for members and branches in UCU.
If any Cardiff UCU members would like to attend this meeting, particularly those who’ve been active on the Strike Committee or branch Executive Committee (or those who’d like to get more active this year), please contact ucu@cardiff.ac.uk for more info about being one of our delegates.

2019 UCU LGBT+ Conference Report:

The months before the strike were so full of planning and organising activity, that we decided to hold back this news item, about November’s UCU’s Equality Conference, for fear that it might get lost.
Cardiff UCU Branch President, and UCU NEC member, Ryan Prout, introduced and chaired the conference which was addressed by Marc Svensson of UCL, Matson Lawrence from the University of Strathclyde, Eden Langley from the National Union of Students (NUS), and Francis Clark and Amy Bulge from the University of Birmingham UCU branch.

The following is excerpted from Ryan’s introductory address:
“The last year has also been marked by efforts to grapple with the ripple effects as traditional and heteronormative concepts of sex and gender have been challenged by the growing number of people who chose to identify outside of the gender binary, or to work within it from identities that do not derive solely from anatomy. The discussion around the Gender Recognition Act has been a complex one, and this is a good opportunity to mention that progress on this has been setback by a postponement, something which the chair of the TUC’s LGBT committee has signalled concern about to that body.

The confusion that seems to reign in the tabloid press between sex and relationship education speaks to the fact that LGBT+ matters are still misrepresented: when heterosexual relationships are at stake it’s all about families and non-sexual affinities and kinship; when homosexual relationships are concerned, still, in 2019, they seem always to be represented through the prism of sex. There is more work to do, and perhaps of an unexpected sort, to redress this.

UCU has been busy doing its part to make sense of these debates, and in that regard, we could refer, for example, to UCU’s work on resources that carefully define what the LGBT+ communities mean by some of the terminologies being used today, and by the speaker panel we have organised for this event today, and by the inclusion in a plenary session of this conference, for the first time, of someone speaking to the EDI agenda from the lived experience of trans identity.

On a more practical level, the committee has continued its work of organising presence at pride events, submitting motions to congress, feeding in to campaigning on international issues, for example the plight of gay men in Chechnya, and the threats to the LGBT+ community in Brazil from the newly installed populist regime there, and in representing our HE and FE members, and working to improve the public and academic disclosure on matters that concern them.

Some of the forms in which this happened include the very successful 2019 UCU LGBT+ academic conference, and the equally successful LGBT+ component of the Equalities conference last year. We sent a full delegation to the TUC LGBT workers’ conference in July and many of us stayed for the pride march in London: these events are usually enjoyable and there was an especially good atmosphere at Pride this year and I had the sense that everyone who took part felt very positive about it. The subtle differences of where we sit on the political spectrum were much less important than the sense of solidarity we shared.

In terms of an overall objective, I think it’s fair to say that the committee, which has benefited from the enthusiastic participation of new and longer standing members over the last year, is agreed on putting LGBT+ front and centre in many of the debates and concerns that we work on as a union, from pensions, to promotion and pay equality, to intersectionality with migrant members.”

You can read more about how UCU puts equality and LGBT+ issues at the heart of its work here.

Rest in Power: Nita Sanghera

UCU nationally have released the following statement after the recent death of incoming UCU President Nita Sanghera. Cardiff UCU would like to add our voice to the many tributes being paid to this tireless, generous, and passionate campaigner for HE workers’ rights:

“Nita Sanghera passed away on 16 January 2020. This is such sad news for her family, her loved ones, and for the union. Nita worked tirelessly to create opportunities for working-class students in her role as an Access to HE lecturer at Bournville College. After serving on the West Midlands regional committee, the Black Members’ Standing Committee and the NEC, she was elected vice-president for the further education sector in 2018. At the end of May this year, she would have become the first black woman president of UCU. It is a tragedy that we have lost her.”

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

Cardiff Uni Fat Cat Day, 23rd January 2020: The day by which our VC will have “earned” the same as his lowest-paid workers get in a year:

It’s that time of the year again. When workers across the country can celebrate their very own Fat Cat Day: the day when the CEO, President, Chairperson or Vice-Chancellor has earned in a few days (in some cases, minutes or hours) what the lowest-paid members of staff earn in a year.

Given the widespread use of casual contracts at Cardiff University, it is fair to say that we should have celebrated Vice-Chancellor Riordan’s Fat Cat Day a few seconds into the new year.

With regard to more regular contracts, our VC Colin Riordan, who is currently on a cool £266,000 per annum excluding pension provisions (or £728.77 per day) and other perks, will surpass the annual earnings of the those on the lowest point of Cardiff University’s pay scale – at Point 2, the annual gross salary is £16,420 (or £44.99 per day) – at noon on 23 January 2020. Congratulations Colin!
Sources: