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 Members: A New Year Appeal to Action

We begin 2019 in very turbulent times.

We are at a low-point in the marketisation of UK Higher Education and we face numerous and related challenges: unprecedented attacks on pensions, jobs, and pay; stifling and intransigent managerialism; rising inequality (between male and female staff, senior managers and the rank and file, as well as permanent and precariously-employed workers); endemic casualisation and the spread of gig-economy style working conditions; and sky-rocketing workloads (with a consequent creeping mental health crisis among colleagues).

But we’re also at a high-point in resisting all of this. Although they were emotionally and physically bruising and exhausting, the struggles of 2018 unified and strengthened us. Our collective understanding of these problems has never been clearer. The UCU, both locally and nationally, is bigger, stronger, more active, more democratic, and more able to fight back than ever before.

Please read our important updates below, inform yourself of the evidence behind our planned actions, read what you can do to join in, and ready yourselves for a year of solidarity and struggle.

The union makes us strong; the University belongs to us.

The Cardiff UCU Executive Committee

Our jobs are at risk: Vote for local action to empower your negotiators to save them

As you know from our newsletters before the winter break, Cardiff UCU has declared an Industrial Dispute over the danger of compulsory redundancies associated with the “Transforming Cardiff” cost-cutting exercise.

Our jobs are under threat, and the only effective way we can protect them is to have an active mandate for industrial action ready when/if compulsory job cuts are announced later in the year.

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 will do *everything* we can to avoid industrial action over this issue, but without the threat of local resistance we’ll have little leverage to do protect our jobs.

This local ballot period will overlap with a second national strike ballot on the issues of Pay, Equality, and Casualisation (see below).

The evidence against “Transforming Cardiff”

As you know, “Transforming Cardiff” is a 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.

As well as declaring the dispute discussed above, we have also found that the whole cost-cutting exercise is rooted in sustained mismanagement and misleading analysis.

The USS strikes taught us that our Union is strongest when combining expert analysis and evidence with unified industrial action, sour expert Finance Working Group has been looking in detail at the Uni’s accounts, as well as its case for cutting costs and shedding staff. Based on our findings, we’ve asked management to pause the whole scheme, to take stock, and address our evidence-based concerns.

This (12-minute) video summarises our analysis in detail.You can also find our analysis in text form, or check our shorter (4-minute) summary video here.

National Postal Ballot: Pay, equality, and casualisation, 15th January-22nd February

Last November we, along with most other UCU HE branches, narrowly missed out on reaching the 50% threshold for members voting in a ballot for industrial action over stagnating/equal pay and the scourge of casualisation. A special UCU HE Sector Conference agreed to re-ballot members on the same issue, but using an aggregate ballot (which takes the UCU HE membership as a whole, rather than workplace by workplace). Postal ballots will be sent out to your work or home address between 15th January and 22nd February.

When we voted on this last year, in Cardiff we achieved a turnout of 44%, which is the highest ever for a dispute over pay. But it’s not enough. We urge you again to vote early, and vote “Yes” for strike action and for ASOS.

Check out our FAQ on the issues, and please read our members’ Rowan Campbell and Steven Stanley‘s persuasive accounts of why action is needed, and why you should vote for it. You can also check out this video piece about casualisation at Cardiff from BBC Wales Today, which covers the work of Cardiff UCU’s Anti-Casualisation Working Group (health warning: highly misleading claims are included from the employers about the proportion of staff on secure contracts).

If you didn’t vote last time, please do so this time

  • Not voting plays into the hands of the architects of the punitive 50% threshold for strike action – please do not tacitly support this regressive, anti-union law by abstaining;
  • Yes, this is about pay, but arguably more important are the issues of inequality and casualisation. Marginalised and precariously-employed University workers stood with more established colleagues in (often selfless) union to protect our pensions last year;
  • If you are in secure employment and wavering about this vote, now is the time to stand together and repay this solidarity.

Take Action: How to help resist these cuts, protect our jobs, improve pay and conditions, and make the University a more equal employer?

  1. Update your member details (workplace, correspondence address, etc) on the UCU website, so you can be sure of getting your postal ballot cards;
  2. Vote, vote, vote: vote early (don’t put it off): please vote Yes to Strike Action and ASOS in both ballots; give our local and national negotiators a strong mandate and real leverage;
  3. Discuss, share, and raise concerns about the issues and the evidence/analysis in the videos above (as well as the posters and flyers we circulate). When you hear colleagues expressing fear, concern, or unease, persuade them to join the UCU, and follow up with an email to show them how to sign up;
  4. A good place to do do this will be our regular Monday-lunchtime “Resist Transforming Cardiff” gatherings in the foyer of the Main Building on Park Place (see also the attached flyer). Come along for an informal opportunity to chat, learn, organise, engage, and show solidarity.
  5. Attend local UCU meetings (the next General Meeting is 23rd January, 1.20pm, Glamorgan Building, Committee Rm 1) as well as the all-staff meetings we’ll be holding in the coming weeks and months;
  6. Join our new dispute committee, which will guide our strategy and campaigning in these disputes, and is open to all members. The next meeting will be held in the John Perceval Building, room 1.31, 1pm-2pm, Monday 15th January.

 

Stop Trashing Cardiff – The Video

“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 also think that the whole cost-cutting exercise is rooted in mismanagement and a poor analysis. Our expert finance group has been looking in detail at the University’s accounts, as well as its case for cutting staff. This video summarises their findings. Continue reading

Resist Transforming Cardiff – Every Monday 12.30 in Main Building

Please consider joining 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. Continue reading

Our local Trade Dispute over the threat of compulsory redundancies

As we explained last week, in response to the Vice-Chancellor’s refusal to rule out compulsory redundancies Cardiff UCU has declared a Trade Dispute, as the first step towards balloting our members on Industrial Action. Our principle aim in this dispute will be the avoidance of compulsory redundancies at Cardiff University.

Since last week, Welsh media have covered these plans(please note we aren’t responsible for the headline, which refers only to “lecturers”, and we’ve made clear to the news outlet that all staff are under threat, not just teaching staff – we’re all in this together!). We have also distilled info about the local problems we face, and how we’re planning to respond in this Twitter thread (you don’t have to be on Twitter to read it, but if you are please follow us and share our tweets – it’s an important campaigning tool, as well as a place where you can get useful updates on our work).

No Trade Union takes industrial action lightly, and we’ll do everything we can to avoid the need for it, but Union legislation (designed to make things more difficult for unions) means we need to set the wheels in motion now, plan for the worst, and be ready to face compulsory job cuts if (more likely, when) they come.

What can you do

  • Spread the word about, and attend, our upcoming open staff meetings for information sharing and planning to resist the cuts: The first joint staff meeting will be held Tomorrow (Thursday 20th December) 1-2pm in the Wallace Lecture Theatre (rm. 0.13 Main Building, Park Place);
  • Join our new Cardiff UCU Dispute Committee, which will be open to all members, to plan our strategy for defending our jobs (first meeting soon, TBA; to express interest contact ucu@cardiff.ac.uk);
  • Be ready to vote in indicative online polls and formal ballots on local industrial action in the new Year – and please vote in favour of Industrial action to empower your local negotiators to better defend your jobs and those of your colleagues;
  • Be inspired by the success and tactics of other UCU branches who’ve fought redundancies and won (see p.79 onwards of the Branch Solidarity Network’s UCU Activist Handbook)

Our alternative analysis of Transforming Cardiff and why this damaging exercise in cuts should be paused

As explained last week, our branch finance working group has been poring over Cardiff University’s accounts and financial documents to critically analyze the case for this restructuring exercise. We’ve now shared phase one of this analysis with the senior management of the University.

Please download our lengthy, but necessary, evidence-based request made by the UCU to the VC, other members of the University Executive Board (UEB) and Chair of Council Stuart Palmer to immediately halt all aspects of the latest round of cost-cutting which is known as Transforming Cardiff.

We find that Transforming Cardiff is based on a weak and misleading analysis of the University’s financial position which is then used to argue to cut staff costs – i.e. reduce staff numbers even further at a time when we face a workload crisis, while wanting to grow research income at the same time.

Our letter challenges the dominant narrative of the UEB, and requests a pause for reflection, debate, and genuine dialogue (rather than the fait accompli with which we have been presented so far). Please take 20 or 30 minutes to read the document and think hard about these issues. If you feel that the letter at least raises important questions about Transforming Cardiff then please share and discuss these issues widely in public, on social media, and within your departments, and join us in pressuring the UEB to see sense.

We believe that the outputs of this group have the potential to play a similar role in this local dispute as the work of our amazing pensions experts in the USS Strikes earlier this year – in other words, it’s crucial. If you’d like to join in with the efforts of Cardiff UCU’s expert finance group please contact the local office on ucu@cardiff.ac.uk.

“Transforming Cardiff”: Our jobs are at risk

By now, most of you will have heard about Cardiff University’s plan to cut costs under a new “restructuring” scheme called Transforming Cardiff. Many will also have seen the University’s announcement of yet another Voluntary Severance Scheme (the third in 6 years) to encourage staff to leave their posts. The Vice Chancellor has consistently refused to rule out compulsory redundancies

This has been widely covered in the regional and national news media, for instance in WalesOnline, and on the BBC website, and in the Guardian (this article shows how numerous other UK Universities are also announcing pre-Christmas job cuts – more have come to light since, details on our Twitter account).

All of these news stories quote the following robust joint public statement we released with the other campus Union branches from Unite and Unison (whose members are similarly angry at these developments):

“We are astonished that Cardiff University staff are facing their third voluntary severance scheme in six years, and we are very worried that the Vice Chancellor still refuses to rule out further compulsory redundancies.

“We are also gravely concerned that the proposed severance scheme will cause inequality and division among our already demoralised members. The criteria being used to decide the size of pay-outs mean that lump sums will vary in arbitrary ways. We believe those who take up the offer of voluntary severance should all be treated equally.

“We are in this situation because of continued mismanagement at the highest level. Only last year we were told that the University’s budget deficit was predicted and manageable, but now our jobs are on the line yet again. When a football manager performs this badly they either resign or get the sack, but Cardiff University managers seem to be immune from this kind of accountability. For them, laying off staff has become a reflex reaction, rather than an option of last resort.

“Morale among our members is already at rock bottom because of stagnating wages, unmanageable workloads, attacks on pensions, and continued investment in shiny new buildings instead of staff. 

“The only thing which changed the Vice-Chancellor’s mind over this year’s proposed pension raid was concerted industrial action. The looming threat of compulsory redundancies is a major worry for all three campus trade unions and we are all now consulting our members so we can unite in defence of our jobs should the need arise.”

Our opposition to compulsory redundancies: Cardiff UCU is now in formal dispute with the University

The recent experiences of other UCU branches shows that if we want to keep our jobs the best (and possibly only) way is to have an active mandate for industrial action so we can act quickly against compulsory redundancies should they be announced.

In response to the Vice-Chancellor’s refusal to rule out compulsory redundancies, and having exhausted the formal procedures for avoiding a dispute set out in our Recognition Agreement, on Thursday 13 December Cardiff UCU declared a Trade Dispute, as the first step towards balloting our members on Industrial Action (you can read copies of this brief letter, as well as a longer one justifying and explaining our position).

Our principle aim in this dispute will be the avoidance of compulsory redundancies at Cardiff University.

No Trade Union takes industrial action lightly, and we’ll do everything we can to avoid the need for it, but Tory anti-Union legislation means we need to set the wheels in motion now, plan for the worst, and be ready to face compulsory job cuts if (more likely, when) they come.

What can you do:

  • Join our new Cardiff UCU Dispute Committee, which will be open to all members, to plan our strategy for defending our jobs (first meeting soon, TBA; to express interest contact ucu@cardiff.ac.uk);
  • Spread the word about, and attend, our upcoming open staff meetings for information sharing and planning to resist the cuts: The first joint staff meeting will be held on Thursday 20 December 1-2pm in the Wallace Lecture Theatre (rm. 0.13 Main Building, Park Place);
  • Be ready to vote in indicative online polls and formal ballots on local industrial action in the new Year – and please vote in favour of Industrial action to empower your local negotiators to better defend your jobs and those of your colleagues;
  • Be inspired by the success and tactics of other UCU branches who’ve fought redundancies and won (see p.79 onwards of the Branch Solidarity Network’s UCU Activist Handbook)

The Cardiff UCU Finance Working Group, and challenging the need for Transforming Cardiff

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.

A group of Cardiff UCU members have recently been working to do the same locally, to critically examine the University’s finances and, where necessary, challenge the analysis and narratives used by senior management to justify these and other attacks on our pay and conditions.

We will update you soon about the excellent work they have been doing to challenge the need for Transforming Cardiff. To express interest in working with this group contact the branch office ucu@cardiff.ac.uk.

“Transforming Cardiff” and defending jobs at Cardiff University

The University has released on the intranet more information about its current restructuring exercise, “Transforming Cardiff”. It boils down to a commitment to improving teaching, research, and professional services, while spending less money. They have commited to releasing more information about the voluntary severance scheme (VSS) , which will form a major part of this plan, next week.

Cardiff UCU have raised numerous concerns about Transforming Cardiff in general, and the severance scheme in particular. This is the third such scheme our members have had to contend with in six years, and the VC has repeatedly refused to rule out compulsory redundancies.

We are currently working with the other campus Unions on a statement which explains our shared problems with the new VSS scheme, and our plans to collectively resist compulsory job cuts in future. We’ll keep you informed.

Letter to the Vice Chancellor on the threat of compulsory redundancies

Many members have expressed concern after reports in the Welsh media suggested the University was facing financial difficulties and considering widespread redundancies. We have been working, behind the scenes, to get more information from the University about its plans to make cuts, as well as to ensure we are consulted properly so we can represent you effectively.

Our priority is to work with the University to avoid compulsory redundancies, but the University has so far been unable to offer reassurances in this regard. We want to avoid a dispute over this, but we’ve been clear with the University that if it doesn’t engage with us we’ll consult with our members about next steps.

We have requested (for the second time) that the University convene a meeting of the Joint Negotiating Committee of campus unions so that real engagement can happen and a dispute can be avoided.

Read our letter to the Vice-Chancellor (PDF).

We will keep you informed of any progress that is made, and continue to fight against the threat of compulsory redundancies.