I want to thank everyone for their union work during this incredibly challenging year. It seems like much longer ago than February and March that we were on strike defending our pensions, pay and equality and against casualisation and excessive workloads. Of course these issues have not gone away, and have instead been intensified by the pandemic and international financial crisis. Nevertheless, I believe we’re in a stronger position to defend ourselves because our action earlier this year, which showed that attacks would be resisted.
I am proud that we have managed to maintain core features of democracy within our branch, despite the restrictions and thank everyone who has been able to engage in our General Meetings which have determined the branch’s positions this year. It is a result of these, as well as our branch survey results and feedback from branch Health & Safety and Department Representatives, that we have pushed University management to ensure staff are not compelled to attend face-to-face work on campus while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a significant public health risk. While some members may feel safe to engage in face-to-face work on campus, we are committed to the position that no member of staff should be forced back to work on campus. Given University management’s refusal to give a clear and public commitment on this and our subsequent initiation of the disputes resolution procedure, we will begin a consultative ballot on this issue in the New Year.
We will join an increasing number of other UCU branches entering dispute over related issues. We must be united to defend our jobs, pay and our working conditions, as well as the education sector. We should not be forced to pay the price of the pandemic – or let management use this as an excuse to push through negative changes. Our position this year to not accept the proposed justifications for staffing cuts has been vindicated and shows the importance of combative trade unions.
I know that this year has been very challenging for many of us, whether working from home or on campus. I hope there is a chance for rest and recuperation during the University closure period and that we can come back refreshed and determined in the New Year.
Cardiff branch President