2-day summit on Survival Strategies for early-Career Researchers, 17-18 November

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.

Universities UK Supports JEP Recommendations on Pensions

Financial Times Journalist Josephine Cumbo reported on Twitter a few days ago that UUK has now, in principle, accepted the Joint Expert Panel’s recommendations on the future of USS. You can read the thread on Twitter.

While there is still a way to go in the pensions dispute, the fact we have moved our employers from wanting to do away with our DB pensions entirely to basically accepting our critiques and points of view is a massive testament to all of us who took the difficult and brave decision to strike last winter.

If we’d caved in, we’d not have our pensions any more.

UCU National Disputes Committee (NDC) statement to the UCU Superannuation Working Group (SWG) on the JEP and the USS dispute

One of the things we won in the USS Strike was the opportunity to re-form and democratise our union’s handling of the dispute. The NDC was formed so that rank and file UCU members would have an on-going say in how we manage the pensions issue, and it recently released a statement to the UCU’s Superannuation Working Group which should guide union policy. This conclusion sums up their “no detriment” position nicely, but you can read more in the link below:

“The NDC believes that the precipitate and misleading attempt to impose a DC scheme on members was a disappointing and unwarranted breach of promise by employers. Given no reform of the scheme was required, and therefore UCU members were compelled to take strike action that was unnecessary, the NDC adopts the following:

  1. UCU members should suffer no detriment in any proposed resolution of the USS dispute. Lost earning should be repaid, any interim contribution increases should be shouldered by the employer, and USS benefits should remain the same.
  2. UCU should call upon UUK and individual Vice Chancellors to apologise to their staff for their role in triggering the dispute.
  3. UUK and individual Vice-Chancellors should also apologise to students for their actions and offer appropriate compensation for lost teaching.

The NDC notes there are important areas of concern to UCU members and matters of UCU policy that are not covered in the JEP report. The NDC recommends that the SWG push for negotiations on these issues. The NDC also recommends that the SWG insists that resolution of the dispute incorporates reform of the Joint Negotiating Committee so that the scheme cannot be modified without the approval of members.”

You can read the full statement, and you can keep yourself informed of the work of the NDC.

Critically Examining Cardiff University’s Finances: A New local UCU working group needs you!

One of the Union’s biggest strengths during the pensions dispute came from rank and file members’ own critical examination of USS and UUK’s positions on our pensions. Members locally, and at UK level, continue to use their expertise as researchers to effectively demolish the case for decimating our retirement incomes.

We now need to draw on our members’ expertise around the University’s finances, business strategies, and spending priorities.

Our employers get away with redundancies, increased marketisation, inequality, casualisation, and cuts to pay and conditions by arguing they are financially inevitable. But as we know, cuts are always about priorities and choices, and we can much better counter these claims when we have our own facts, figures, and analysis to use in disputes and campaigns.

In short, knowledge is power: help us generate this essential information! If you’d like to be part of this working group please email UCU@cardiff.ac.uk to express an interest.

Workload Reps Training and Workload Campaign Meeting: Monday Nov 5

As part of the next steps in our Workload Campaign, we are holding a training session and campaign meeting on the afternoon of Monday 5th November.

For the training session, Adam Lincoln from UCU Head Office in London will be coming to Cardiff to run a half-day introduction to the role of the workload rep., and how we can use our rights as trade unionists (particularly under Health and Safety legislation) to take action in support of manageable workloads. The training will provide you with the skills and information needed to help us take the next step in our campaign to take back our time.

We will follow this with a Campaign Meeting, to plan the next steps of our workload campaign here in Cardiff. After the meeting we would like to encourage everyone who can (& would like to!) to join us in going for a drink and/or some food locally.

Both events will take place on Monday Nov 5:

  • Training session: 12pm-3pm (with lunch provided)
  • Campaign Meeting: 3:30pm-5pm

If you are interested in attending but have not yet put your name forward, please email the branch office at ucu@cardiff.ac.uk and let us know for catering purposes. If you are interested but can’t attend on this occasion let us know, we will hold further events in the future.

Branch Solidarity Network’s “Activist Handbook”: How to fight back and win Trade Union disputes

The UCU Branch Solidarity Network has just released a free, downloadable, “Activists’ Handbook” which collects bags of inspiring and amazing examples of UCU activism at UK universities and gives guidance on how to organize around a wide range of different issues. It’s an excellent resource, and well worth checking out.

We’re super pleased to see a number of contributions involving Cardiff UCU members in here. It references our on-going workload campaign, as well as the fantastic Common Room events run for Cardiff staff and students.

You can access the book for free.

The Common Room Autumn Semester Dates: Self care, staff-student solidarity, & democratizing the University

Over the coming weeks the Common Room collective (among them, numerous Cardiff UCU members) will be hosting diverse sessions in venues across the university on Wednesdays 12noon until 1pm (see the flyer for the full programme).

Some of the sessions will feature presentations and thought-provoking discussion, others will be more focussed on practical activities. The aim of all events is to make a difference to the way we think of ourselves and each other in relation to the university. In doing so, Season 2 aims to continue the original ethos of the Common Room:

  • Cultivating care & value in the academy
  • Sustaining staff-student solidarity
  • Reclaiming & democratising “the university”

One of the aims of the Common Room is to increase solidarity amongst all staff and students; the Common Room is open to all students – undergraduate and postgraduate – and all staff – academic and non-academic – alike. Please send a link to this post to any groups or individuals you think might be interested in this mission.

Anyone can join the Common Room Outlook Group by following this link.

Reminder: National Unity Demonstration against Fascism and Racism, Saturday 17 November

At the recent TUC Congress, UCU raised a motion, seconded by PCS, noting the disturbing rise of racist and fascist activity across Europe. Congress agreed the need for a mass movement in Britain to halt the growth of the racist and fascist right and supported the call on the General Council to co-organise the national unity demo in London on 17th November, called by Stand Up To Racism and supported by Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and a number of key figures from Labour, the trade unions and faith communities.

Members of Cardiff UCU executive committee will be attending the march with the branch banner and we would like to encourage members to attend. For more info please email standuptoracismcardiff@gmail.com.

Transport info:

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.