1. Update from Wales Congress
UCU Wales Congress was held online on the 24th April and included the contributions of UCU general secretary, Jo Grady, and UCU President, Vicky Blake. Our branch’s motion on supporting the “Free Siyanda” and other Black Lives Matter campaigns was moved and our second branch’s motion on support for Julian Assange was a draw, and was therefore referred to Wales Council for an action on the sentiment of the motion regarding free speech, but not on the details. You can see all the motions outcomes here.
At the Congress it was agreed that there will be a special meeting of Wales Council on Friday, 14th May at 4 pm to discuss the block voting by UCU Wales on motions to Wales Trade Unions Council Congress on 25/26th May. The motions to be discussed can be found here. We apologize for the short notice in informing members of these. If you have strong feelings about any of the motions, please contact Renata Medeiros (MedeirosMirraRJ@cardiff.ac.uk) or Luzia Dominguez (DominguezL@cardiff.ac.uk), who will be our branch’s delegates for this meeting, before 4 pm today.
2. USS pensions meeting
The pensions meeting held last Wednesday by our branch pensions officer Dave Atkins and Woon Wong, branch member from Cardiff Business School and national UCU joint negotiator on pensions was well attended. For those who could not attend, please see here for a summary of what was discussed:
If you want to join us to help defend your pension, then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Covid-19 rights – information to members
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) produced guidance on taking time off for covid-19 vaccinations and for ‘post-COVID-19 syndrome’, ‘long-tail COVID’ or ‘long COVID’.
You can access the guidelines for vaccination here.
You can access the guidelines for long-covid here.
Any health condition lasting six months or longer is considered a long-term illness or chronic health condition. Any condition that has a substantial adverse effect on your daily life for more than 12 months is considered a disability and is protected by the Equality Act 2010. Many people have now been reported to suffer from long-covid for over 12 months, making it hard for employers to argue that it is not a long-term illness and in many cases the severity of the effects classify as a disability. In such cases the employer is under a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to the workplace to help accommodate the employee to continue at work. Also, if anyone with a pre-existing disability or health condition was made worse from having Covid, a review of their existing reasonable adjustments should be carried out and new reasonable adjustments introduced, if necessary.
Please get in touch with the union if you are facing issues with long’covid that are not being properly addressed by the university.
4. Political fund: right to give a withdrawal notice
Since 1913 trade unions who wished to be involved in activity that might be deemed political had to ballot their members on the establishment of a political fund. Since 1984, trade unions have to repeat the ballot every 10 years. UCU last balloted members on the retention of its political fund in March-April 2018. Members voted to retain the fund.
Employers spend millions of pounds lobbying government and politicians in their favour and union political funds can be used to help redress that balance. UCU uses its political fund income to promote the interests of UCU members, campaigning and lobbying irrespective of party political affiliation.
However, individual members can opt in or out of making contributions to the fund. UCU members in Great Britain who joined the union on or after 1 March 2018 are notified annually of their right to withdraw from the fund. A notice to those members was issued recently and can be found here.
5. HE negotiators: call for nominations
The HE national negotiators will be elected by the online annual sector conference: nominations are open until the 21st May. The process is by self-nomination.
UCU national negotiators participate in regular (about once every two/three months) meetings with the other trade unions, and occasional intense periods of negotiation when pay claims are under discussion.
If you wish to nominate yourself, please find details of how nominations can be made here.