All union branches are powered by oodles of “unseen” voluntary work carried out by branch officers and active members. In this very real sense the Union is powered by its members, and is only as effective as its membership is active, informed, and engaged.
Case work is one of the most important, but least appreciated, examples of this invisible Union work. It involves representing and supporting individuals or groups of members experiencing difficulties in their jobs.
The Cardiff UCU Case Work team is always very busy, but it is currently going through a big spike in demand – made even worse by the current (and unnecessary) “Transforming Cardiff” cuts.
- If you have previously done Case Work at Cardiff or one of your other workplaces, and don’t currently, please consider volunteering again now;
- If you’ve never done case work but would consider volunteering to help out with this extremely good, and often very rewarding, job please get in touch (email@example.com)
You can find out more on the national UCU site about what case work involves, and how it’s done. If you volunteer, you will not be sent into the field unsupported, and the union has excellent training which prepares you very well.
Cardiff UCU has been negotiating and campaigning to get the unworkable and unrealistic Workload Allocation Model reviewed for years. Last year, the University finally listened, and many of you took part in a series of useful workshops run by Cardiff Uni’s Tina Blomme.
The upshot of this is a new, big, review of the workload model involving a number of Task and Finish Groups, as well as further staff focus groups to monitor and feed back on the process. It’s all outlined in Blas.
It might seem frustrating that the outcome of last year’s consultation is yet more consultation, but we’re making real progress here, and we need to keep up the pressure to humanise the workload model.
- Volunteers (those who already participated in last semester’s focus groups, but also those who didn’t) to sign up for these academic focus groups – having rank-and-file UCU members on these will be highly important (please read the info on the intranet, and get in touch with Tina Blomme by Jan 25th to sign up); and
- Some more-expert/experienced members to volunteer to be the named UCU reps on the more substantial Task and Finish groups also outlined in the Blas story (get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org to express an interest in this).
The University has published a draft REF code of practice which you can read about on the intranet. They have asked staff to send in their views on this draft as part of a consultation exercise.
We encourage you to engage with this process, but Cardiff UCU will also be sending a co-ordinated response on behalf of members. Please send us your thoughts as well as engaging with this as individuals.
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 email@example.com 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.
Our comrades at the Cardiff Trades Council have asked us to share the following info about (what looks like) a great Alex Gibney documentary about a brutal murder during the Norther Irish troubles screening Thursday 7th Feb, 6.30pm-9.30pm: Rm 0.06, Cardiff JOMEC, Two Central Square (one of the Uni’s “shiny new buildings)
Hosted by the NUJ and Cardiff JOMEC, there’ll be a free screening and a talk with some of the film-makers, who were arrested on trumped-up charges in an attempt to stifle their work. For more info and free tickets see the Eventbrite page.