Tag Archives: Stop Trashing Cardiff

“Transforming Cardiff” is a cost-cutting restructuring exercise being carried out at Cardiff University. At its core lies the third voluntary severance scheme in under 6 years, and the danger of compulsory redundancies in the future. The Cardiff branch of the University and College Union has declared a Trade Dispute with the University to oppose the threat of compulsory job losses. We have now received authorisation for a postal ballot for local Strike Action and Action Short of a Strike (ASOS) between 1st-22nd February 2019. We’re also currently being balloted on Strike Action and ASOS on pay – please vote in both ballots.

Cardiff UCU Finance Working Group: We’re hiring an accountant!

As we’ve mentioned before, the local volunteers on our finance working group have been doing amazing work critically examining the University’s financial information, with a view to critiquing the case for cuts to staff and re-organisation of the University. It has been a central plank of our campaign against “Transforming Cardiff”, and has given us a lot of information in our on-going discussions with management (see these videos, for example).

On the advice of the finance group, the Cardiff UCU AGM this week agreed to take this research to the next step, and to use some of our limited resources to commission a qualified accountant to do more of this work on our behalf (there’s only so much our volunteer members can do without more expert guidance and input). Given our failure to meet the 50% threshold for action to defend against compulsory redundancies, this vital work becomes even more important.

Watch this space, but in the meantime you can read about what was found when our colleagues at Bangor UCU did the same thing.

Update on our discussions with management about “Transforming Cardiff”

The work of our finance group has generated lots of questions and data which undermines Cardiff’s rationale for its planned swingeing cuts. We’ve repeatedly asked for the University Executive Board and others to engage with us on these figures, and give us answers to our many questions.

Along with the other trade unions and the Students’ Union we will be meeting with UEB and members of council and pushing for information, clarity, and action around the following points:

  • The real causes of the financial situation at Cardiff University
  • Likely impact of VSS, and other potential job losses, on workload, health and safety, income generation capability and student experience
  • Current and future impact of the massive public bond the University took out in 2016 to finance building projects, and its capital investment strategy in general
  • Alternative approaches to “Transforming Cardiff”
  • The role of UEB and governing bodies in getting us in this mess in the first place (we’ve argued for a while now, based on the evidence we’ve generated, that mis-management got us here, not just external factors.

What can you do to resist, and get clued-up about, “Transforming Cardiff?

Please join us for regular informal lunch-time gatherings (bring your lunch) every Monday in the Foyer/Viriamu Jones Gallery of the University’s main building. We think this is an excellent opportunity to meet colleagues from other schools, to discuss the situation of the University and to generate ideas for a more sustainable future. More info here.

Resisting Transforming Cardiff

On Wednesday February 13th, representatives of Cardiff UCU Branch Committee and the other campus unions met with the Vice-Chancellor and representatives from UEB and HR to discuss the paper that was recently approved by Council and published.

The Vice-Chancellor conveyed that all the pillars of the “Transforming Cardiff”/”Trawsffurfio Caerdydd” programme remain at the ideas stage, and offered to consult further before more detailed proposals are put to Council.

UCU representatives are holding meetings in various Schools and Departments in order to register members’ questions and concerns and we encourage members to get in touch with your concerns.

We also encourage members to attend the events being held with our Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor on Monday and Tuesday of next week. It is particularly important that professional services colleagues and postgraduate student members attend these events and pose questions for our leaders, and express their concerns. Information about the meetings can be found here on the intranet.

Prior to attending these events, and to inform any questions you might ask, we recommend you read the Vice-Chancellor’s email and the Transforming Cardiff Proposal to Council alongside the FAQ we have prepared relating to our two ballots.

Do you want to help make the university a better place to work and study?

This is your last chance to vote in our two ballots – the local ballot defending against the threat of compulsory redundancies arising from the Transforming Cardiff scheme, and the national ballot demanding a 7.5% pay rise (or £1,500 per year, whichever is greater), that the gender pay gap is closed by 2020, and that the problems of excessive workloads and casual contracts are urgently addressed nationally. Your ballot papers will need to arrive in the post with UCU before 12 noon on Friday 22nd February. Return your ballot papers NOW!

  • If you have lost or not received your national ballot, there is still time to request a new one now, which you will need to post as soon as you receive it.
  • If you have lost or not received your local ballot, please request one immediately from the UCU Wales Office, providing your membership number and date of birth.
  • If you are a postgraduate student member and you work for the University in any capacity, teaching or doing research, you are eligible to vote and should have received your ballots. If you have not received your ballots, you may need to change your membership from ‘postgraduate’ (student) member to ‘standard free’ (or ‘full free’) via My UCU … please do this urgently!

Two Ballots: the FAQs

As you are aware, members face TWO strike ballots this month and we have posted a comprehensive FAQ (‘Frequently Asked Questions’).

Your papers for both ballots must reach Head Office by 22nd February.

A reminder of the issues:

  1. Pay & Equality (UK ballot, 15th Jan-22nd Feb): Negotiations made no progress on the issues of wages, tackling the gender pay gap, reducing casualization, and impossible workloads. UCU nationally, and the Cardiff UCU Executive Committee recommend that you vote ‘YES’ in favour of strike action and ASOS.
  2. Protect jobs (local ballot, 1st-22nd Feb): There is a threat of compulsory redundancies at Cardiff University. Our VC has refused to provide assurance there will be no compulsory redundancies as part of the Transforming Cardiff campus redevelopment scheme. Cardiff UCU Executive Committee recommend that you vote ‘YES’ in this local ballot favour of strike action and ASOS to protect our jobs.

And there’s further details in our previous post.

Can you give an hour of your time to help strengthen UCU’s bargaining position?

If so, please join our phone-banking team! We need to personally contact our members to remind them to dig out their ballot papers and put them in the post. It will really help us to achieve the 50% turnout we need for the ballot to count.

We are asking you to commit to just one hour over the coming week. You can work by yourself or in pairs or in groups of three, as you prefer. It’s a great opportunity to meet other members and do something positive to improve your working conditions.

If you can help, please contact Lucy Riglin (RiglinL@cardiff.ac.uk) or Steven Stanley (StanleyS1@cardiff.ac.uk)

The “Transforming Cardiff” cuts and on-going discussions with the University Executive Board

A UCU Wales official and your local branch lead negotiator, Josh Robinson, met with the VC and senior members of his team to discuss the future change agenda at Cardiff university. It was a very constructive meeting, where the VC assured the campus unions that they were trying very hard to develop a strategy which would allow them to make the necessary changes and at the same time avoid compulsory redundancies. We have agreed to meet again as a group to discuss the paper which is going to university Council on the 11 February.

Hopefully after Council the university will share with the campus unions the content of the paper as it affects all university staff. The UCU official also requested that the VC consider discussing ideas about change processes with the campus unions before a decision is made by council. The campus unions assured him of their ability to maintain confidentiality whilst the ‘ideas phase’ was being developed and agreed by council. He agreed to give this serious consideration for the future and indicated that our commitment to maintaining confidentiality would certainly help him in securing agreement.

If you aren’t aware of our evidence-based case against Transforming Cardiff, then please take the time to watch our video primer.

Two ballots for industrial action, and what you can do to help

As discussed in previous posts, members face TWO strike ballots this month:

  1. Pay & Equality (UK ballot, 15th Jan-22nd Feb): Negotiations made no progress on the issues of wages, tackling the gender pay gap, reducing casualization, and impossible workloads. UCU nationally, and the Cardiff UCU Executive Committee recommend that you vote ‘YES’ in favour of strike action and ASOS.
  2. Protect jobs (local ballot, 1st-22nd Feb): There is a threat of compulsory redundancies at Cardiff University. Our VC has refused to provide assurance there will be no compulsory redundancies as part of the Transforming Cardiff campus redevelopment scheme. Cardiff UCU Executive Committee recommend that you vote ‘YES’ in this local ballot favour of strike action and ASOS to protect our jobs.

You can read more about each ballot, along with the reasons we think you should vote “Yes” to both industrial action and ASOS in both in the FAQ.

You can also download our bilingual flyer/poster about these ballots (please print them out, or pick up some copies from the UCU office, to stick up around your departments).

What can you do to help? Let us count the ways…

  • Vote in both ballots, vote early, and vote for action (even if you don’t support industrial action, please vote – if you don’t, we are less likely to make the punitive, anti-union 50% threshold for industrial action);
  • Join our join our “Standing Together”: Meditation Demonstration at 12:30-1pm in the VJ Gallery (Foyer) of the Main Building on Tuesday 12th February. This is a powerful act of silent protest and solidarity;
  • Help us “Get Out The Vote”, by volunteering to ring members to remind them to make their voice heard in both disputes – evidence from other branches shows that personal communication with members is essential to meeting the 50% threshold for action) – we’ll support you with guidance and a phone-banking script. It’s dead easy, and would make a great difference (email ucu@cardiff.ac.uk or ring the branch office to find out more/volunteer)
  • Drop in on the regular, Monday lunchtime, informal gatherings in the Main Building Foyer (12.30-1.30pm) to learn more about the local and national disputes, offer each other support and solidarity; and/or
  • 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).

TWO active strike ballots in January/February: Vote early, vote twice, and vote “YES”

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 ucu@cardiff.ac.uk 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.