Are you one of the roughly 30% of staff in Higher Education who has just received an annual increment by moving up a spinal point on the pay scale? If so, congratulations – you earned it. It is not, as senior managers at Cardiff University like to tell members of staff, a pay rise but a recognition of gained experience and expertise.
What you might not be aware of is that Cardiff University managers were keen to deny you the uplift in pay. They approached the campus unions in May 2020 to seek their agreement to scrap increments as part of a cost-saving drive to ‘save the University that we all love’. Management justified this cost-saving drive with an extremely pessimistic prediction of reduced income as a result of a catastrophic fall in students numbers because of the Covid pandemic.
The campus unions rejected this manufactured crisis scenario because not enough was known about student numbers for 2020/21 and also because the University was not able to demonstrate that they have made cost savings elsewhere, especially with regard to its £600m capital investment in new buildings (which actually costs £900m taking into account interest).
While recent projections of student numbers appear to have vindicated the campus unions’ stance in rejecting the removal of annual increments, the threat to your income has not gone away. There is already talk of a ‘headcount review’ and the UEB is still desperate to significantly cut staff costs to continue to finance their outsized building plans.
Cardiff UCU does not believe that this is compatible with the University’s status as a charity whose aim is to further education and research. We continue to believe that the success of the University relies on its staff and not its buildings.