March 2024 Newsletter

Three dystopian futures – The Big Conversation/Y Sgwrs Fawr
Stealth restructures?
Update on negotiation on relevant factors –improving contracts for people on precarious contracts
Info & meeting about grading Info on freedom of speech regarding Palestine
Anti Racism March Sunday 17th March
Graduate Tutor/Demonstrator contracts – info and survey
Resource on bullying and harassment Letter on fossil fuelsUCU worker’s café – AI Discussion
Open Democracy article on money poured into UK universities
Anti-Casualisation – Cardiff unimpressive in new UCU ranking on working conditions for researchers 
And in case you missed it, Cardiff University fixing apparent recruitment problems with new font and shade of red
Three dystopian futures – The Big Conversation/Y Sgwrs Fawr
Many of you will have seen the video setting out three possible futures for Cardiff University, and been invited to School consultations on these. Members have been in touch to say they have been negatively affected by the dark and dystopian visions presented and disappointed by the quality of the thinking behind them.
It seems petty to point out that Cardiff is projected to be submerged by rising sea levels rather than afflicted by droughts as shown in the video, but there are more missteps: an absence of humanities disciplines amid plentiful mentions of STEM subjects and a fundamental unwillingness to imagine a hopeful and positive future that we can play an important part in constructing. As an academic community of staff and students who spend a formative part of our lives together, we are well-placed to challenge structures and practices that lead to dystopias, even though latterly we are more often told to conform to forces and structures than to challenge them, as though they were as inevitable as the bleak outlook of the videos.
Towards the end of last year, Cardiff UCU outlined a set of positive ideas we distilled from members’ meetings. The resulting vision for the future was approved by a branch General Meeting on 16 November last year and presented to the Vice Chancellor in January, although we do see much evidence that it was taken into account. The document is available on the branch website. While there is much more we wish to say, you may find aspects from which to draw inspiration for the ‘consultation’ we are asked to perform. Cardiff UCU is clear that conformity to harmful supposed inevitable is a dead-end and presenting bleak scenarios so that slightly less bleak scenarios suddenly look appealing is an underhand method, not an honest conversation.
Stealth restructures
The Cardiff UCU executive committee met on 13 March to discuss the rapid changes affecting our members – in particular professional services staff – and we have decided to call for a special meeting of the Joint Consultative and Negotiating Forum. This is the formal meeting where the campus trade unions and university senior management meet to discuss issues requiring collective agreement. Sweeping centralisation has been brought in (e.g.timetabling, research services) with no serious trade union consultation of the effects and impact on staff roles and conditions.
We are also aware that schools have been asked to increase their financial contributions to the university, again, without union consultation. In practice, this can only be achieved through a mixture of cuts to staff and other budgets; increased student numbers with no increased staff;increased international students. All of these options will have detrimental effects on professional services, academic staff, student support, etc. We are very concerned about the impact on staff health, safety and wellbeing due to increased workloads, as well as the uncertainty and anxiety caused by these organisational changes.
If anyone has any information on any of this, please contact the branch and share it with us at ucu@cardiff.ac.uk.
Update on negotiation on relevant factors – reminder and callout for affected members
Cardiff UCU has been negotiating with the university for a year following our claim for the university to stop its use of open-ended contracts with relevant factors (henceforth: ‘OERF’). We believe the use of ‘relevant factors’ is a way the university circumvents its legal duties to provide permanent employment to those who have been employed fixed-term for four years or more.
On the advice of UCU’s legal team, and in line with the views of branch members at our meeting in November, we have rejected the university’s latest offer, which did not propose to stop the use of this contract type altogether (the only acceptable position to our members on OERF contracts). We have proposed a one-year transition period during which the university converts all staff on OERFs onto permanent contracts. We also propose that they give consideration to converting staff on fixed-term contracts for 4 years onto permanent contracts.
Where we are now
We are now building detailed information about the experience of staff on open-ended contracts with relevant factors, to help inform potential legal action. We are particularly interested in hearing if being on an open-ended contract with relevant factors has led to any disadvantages relative to staff on fully open-ended contracts – e.g. if you have been unable to serve as a Principal Investigator on a grant, if you have been prevented from obtaining new computers or equipment, or anything else.
Info & meeting about grading Info on freedom of speech regarding Palestine
We sent a letter to the Vice Chancellor and University Executive Board expressing the concerns our members and students have regarding the university’s response to the war against Palestine, and the climate of fear they experience around expressing support for Palestine. UCU (local and national) will defend any members who experience threats to their academic freedom and freedom of speech: contact the Cardiff UCU office if you have any concerns. Please also look at these resources on defending your advocacy of Palestine in the Higher Education Context. Jenny Sherrard is the Head of Equality and Policy at national UCU, and she is keen to hear from members on issues members might be experiencing around this: JSherrard@ucu.org.uk
We are also compiling resources to share. If you have any resources or information that you use in teaching around this topic, please send to the branch.
You can read about reasons to support an academic boycott of Israel here.
Anti Racism March Sunday 17th March
The branch is supporting the MARCH AGAINST RACISM organised by Wales TUC Cymru and Black Lives Matter Cardiff & Vale.
Where? 11am, Senedd, Pierhead St, Cardiff CF99 1SNWhen? Sunday 17th March
Followed by Afrocluster performance at Grange Gardens, Cardiff, CF11 7LJ – at the end of the March
Graduate Tutor/Demonstrator contracts – info and survey
Contracts for graduate tutors and demonstrators were implemented at the start of academic year 2023. Now that a full semester has been completed with the new contracts, Cardiff UCU and the Students’ Union have developed a survey for PGRs experiences: https://cardiffstudents.typeform.com/to/Kz6SiZt9
Please share the survey and encourage other PGRs to fill it out too.
Cardiff UCU have also produced frequently asked questions leaflets about the new contracts, as we have received feedback that not everyone knows who they are suitable for and what the benefits are. These leaflets should be shared with staff who have responsibility for graduate tutors/demonstrators as well as PGRs.
Resource on bullying and harassment
Paul Brennan and a colleague in MEDIC recorded a conversation around harassment and bullying, that could be of interest here and to our members in general. This has been packaged alongside some links to useful links to other resources in this Padlet:
https://cardiff.padlet.org/reedkr1/a-conversation-about-harassment-and-bullying-d4mmfp412k0fkymr
Towards the end of last year, Cardiff UCU outlined a set of positive ideas we distilled from members’ meetings. The resulting vision for the future was approved by a branch General Meeting on 16 November last year and presented to the Vice Chancellor in January, although we do see much evidence that it was taken into account. The document is attached to this e-mail and while there is much more we wish to say, you may find aspects from which to draw inspiration for the ‘consultation’ we are asked to perform. Cardiff UCU is clear that conformity to harmful supposed inevitable is a dead-end and presenting bleak scenarios so that slightly less bleak scenarios suddenly look appealing is an underhand method, not an honest conversation.
Letter on fossil fuels
Academics have sent a letter to the President and Council of the Royal Society of London, asking them to issue an unambiguous statement about the role of the fossil fuel industry in driving the climate crisis.
The text is at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/18PpPNyK2GIGVDOkBq-3cZKA4agIWu494Ugk_fB58MiY/edit?usp=sharing and at http://royalsocietyletter.uk
You can sign it at https://forms.gle/8ZJx53SNvYUexhkL7
UCU Worker’s café – AI Discussion
The branch will be organising an open discussion for members and non-members alike about AI and how it relates to your rights in the workplace and working conditions.
This will be taking place 3-5pm Wednesday, June 19th in the Glamorgan Building committee rooms so save the date. You should be able to attend as part of your CPD, but please don’t hesitate to contact the branch if you need support to arrange this with your line manager.
If you would like to get involved in organising the event e-mail Isaac the branch admin (ucu@cardiff.ac.uk)
Open Democracy article on money poured into UK universities
For those who missed it, our former vice chancellor is cited celebrating the fact that universities are able to hide the sources of major donors raising questions about how much money Russel group institutions are taking from arms companies: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/dark-money-investigations/uk-russell-group-universities-secret-donations-millions-lobbying/
UCU has produced a league table ranking how well universities are doing on casualisation of research staff
Read the full report here – Cardiff is not doing well. If you want to get involved in how our branch uses this information to campaign for better conditions for research staff, please email rcampbell@ucu.org.uk. The report is published on UCU’s national website:
https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/14258/Support-for-research-staff-2023-FOI-branch-guidance/pdf/UCU_HE_research_staff_support_FOIs_2023_-_branch_guidance.pdf
And finally, Cardiff University reportedly complaining of ‘not attracting the best staff’ but solution found in new font and shade of red
Not a joke (or at least not one being played by the branch). Members pointed this out a few months ago but in case people missed it, Cardiff University contracted an agency to do a rebrand. The agency, called Only, have published an article in which they talk about the work they have done to fix the problem that, “despite its standing, [Cardiff] university has struggled to attract the very best students and staff”.
To “address this and broader cultural challenges at the institution” Only has come up with a slightly different colour logo and changes to the fonts. Read the full story at Creative Boom.
Sarcasm aside, this raises serious questions on the priorities of senior management. While questioning the very premise of their assessment, we would suggest that improving working and learning conditions might be a more productive strategy for solving the “cultural challenges”.
Cardiff UCU

February 2024 Newsletter

Welcome to the February newsletter where you will find: 

Call for General Meeting Update on the last General Meeting 
Update on The Big Conversation / Y Sgwrs Fawr – Unions meeting with the VC UCU Campaign for University Democracy – last chance to vote in the ballot 
Affiliation to Trades Council 
Solidarity & Events including local hustings for candidates in the ongoing UCU elections 

Call for General Meeting 

Our next branch General Meeting will be on Thursday, 22nd February from 1.05-2.05pm (via Zoom).   You can submit motions or items for the agenda by the Friday 9th February – these should be forward to the Branch Secretary Ryan Prout (ProutR@cardiff.ac.uk). If you want any information or support on submitting an item or a motion, please contact the office (ucu@cardiff.ac.uk) or please contact our branch Chair, Renata Medeiros (MedeirosMirraRJ@cardiff.ac.uk), who will be happy to help. Motions previously passed by the branch can be found here.  

A calendar invite and zoom link will be sent to you soon and final Agenda and papers will be circulated the following week. We recommend that, if possible, members go through these ahead of the meeting.    General Meetings are the most important forum for our branch, as this is where our policy and priorities are shaped by yourself and the other members. We hope to see you there. 

Update on the last General Meeting   

At our last GM on the 24th January, our President, Joey Whitfield gave members an update on the campus unions involvement with the Big Conversation, and as promised, you can read the details of the meeting below.   The branch voted on one motion on Potential change to school term dates from 2025/26 and the consequences for University employees who are parents of school age children, which was carried with 46/55 votes in favour.  A motion on Condemning sexual violence as part of armed conflict was voted but not carried, with 31/48 votes against.  A motion on Solidarity with Jewish staff and Students was not voted due to time constraints and will be tabled for the next GM.  

Some members raised the question of whether the branch should be dealing with and taking motions on political/contentious issues that do not seem directly relevant to the work of the branch. The executive committee has reflected on and discussed this extensively in the past and have considered the following: Whether to debate political/contentious issues is a contentious issue in itself, with strong opinions on either side, including those who strongly believe that these issues are core to trade union work;   It is difficult to draw a clear line between what is directly relevant to the work of the branch or not as some national and international events can have a direct impact on the institution or on many of our members – we have a diverse workforce at Cardiff University, including a wide international community, who can be directly affected by issues that seem distant to others. Furthermore, our institutions can often be more involved than we think on issues that might seem at first detached from our working lives (e.g. through research, funding, or investment on issues like war or climate change) If we had a policy of not debating certain issues, someone would have to make that call (probably the Chair or Secretary) and not only would that be more work for people in these roles, it would also be a heavy responsibility that could be easily criticised as censorship; Most of the motions we receive from members are political to some extent and the General Meetings where these motions are debated are amongst the most well attended, which suggests that members care about these issues; As per our branch rules, at General Meetings, members have the option to, at any point in the meeting, request to move on to the next item; if a member makes this request, the Chair should put to a vote whether to move to the next item or not, and if carried, the topic in question does not get debated or voted on.   

With these in mind, the executive committee developed a policy of accepting any motions proposed by members, unless there was a strong reason to block it (e.g. if it is clearly offensive in nature, contravenes branch rules, etc.). Motions that are most directly linked to the core business of the branch are tabled at the top of the agenda.   

The branch also voted on delegates to attend the UCU Wales Congress in Cardiff on the 2nd March. Our branch delegates will be: Phillip Allsopp, Aline Bompas (branch Wellbeing Officer), Sandy Gould (branch Membership Secretary), Jackie Jones, Owain Lawson, Renata Medeiros (branch Chair), Markku Nivalainen, and Adam Soper. Our executive committee member, Chris Graves, will also be attending in his capacity of Secretary of the UCU Wales Higher Education Committee. Nominations got extend so if anyone else would like to register as delegate please contact the office by 15th February. 

The Agenda and Papers for Congress will be shared with our branch to be discussed at our next General Meeting. Our branch submitted one motion for UCU Congress on Solidarity with Palestine, which was carried at this GM with 34/53 votes in favour. Once papers are circulated, our branch can submit two amendments to motions proposed to Congress.   We also elected one delegate from our branch, our Anti-Casualisation Officer, Gabriell Bramley, to attend the Annual UCU Anti-casualisation Meeting on the 24th February.  

Update on The Big Conversation / Y Sgwrs Fawr – Unions meeting with the VC   

On Wednesday 16th January, the three campus unions Unite, Unison and UCU, met with the Vice-Chancellor (VC), Prof. Wendy Larner, to give our input on the Big Conversation. This meeting was requested by the unions back in October. The meeting was attended by the VC, the deputy-Vice-Chancelor (DVC), Damian Walford-Davies, the Head of HR, Sue Midha and the Head of the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, Tom Hay. The UCU representatives were our branch President, Joey Whitfield, our co-Vice-President, Andy Buerki, our Chair, Renata Medeiros, and our Membership Secretary, Sandy Gould. Unite was represented by Venice Cooper and Unison by their branch Secretary, Katie Hall.  

The unions welcomed the opportunity to meet with the VC and reiterated the desire to work with university management in transparency and good faith to improve working conditions for all workers. The unions also made the point that the nature of our organisations and the type of work we do on the ground with members, namely casework, places us in a privileged position to understand the problems individual workers and the workforce as a whole face. University management should do better in valuing the unions involving us earlier on in their decision processes.  

Venice Cowper, from Unite, presented results from their members’ survey that revealed that pensions, fair pay, health, safety and wellbeing, and progress on EDI issues were key priorities for their members. Katie, from Unison, presented their priorities around more recognition and visibility of professional services and erosion of goodwill among their members. Joey, our president, presented Cardiff UCU’s vision for the university (attached), which was approved by our members at our General Meeting in November. We were also guided by a recent report produced by our branch on the Target Operation Model (TOM).  

Overall, the VC seemed tuned to the need to focus attention on staff and to understand the challenges faced by professional staff, in particular. She commended the commitment and pride that she witnessed among Cardiff University workers. She recognised that her communication with staff has focused on changes that she feels are needed for the university to run better, and that there also needed to be a focus on what is not changing.  She also agreed that we needed to talk more about what we do well, mostly due to the effort and goodwill of workers. She also acknowledged that she has been warned that good will is eroding. The VC also reassured the unions that her priority will not be in expanding the university with more buildings, but to focus on staff and their needs and to build community.   While declining to make a commitment on ruling out redundancies, claiming it was too soon for her to assess the wider changes needed, the VC reassured the unions that many of the changes she has been referring to in her communication with staff are not about job cuts but about simplifying and streamlining to take work out and to enhance the use of digital technology. She noted that this could lead to changes in job descriptions but emphasized that nothing concrete has been decided yet. As unions, we will be paying close attention to these processes to protect staff and challenge any detriment to their working conditions. UCU has a policy of disputing any compulsory redundancies and UCU Cymru already volunteered their support in entering into a dispute with the university on this, if needed.  

At the end of the meeting, the VC thanked the unions for their generosity and robustness and stated her desire to work with the unions as critical partners. She stated that she plans to meet with the unions again in mid-February/March. This will allow us to discuss some aspects in more detail as the University finance report for 2023/24 will be available by then. The finance report was published yesterday, and UCU is currently studying it.    Specific themes that were discussed in more detail summarized here.  

UCU Campaign for University Democracy – last chance to vote in the ballot  

Whether in terms of pay, equality, job security or professional autonomy, poor governance is at the centre of many of the challenges confronting Welsh higher education. 
In previous years we have seen institutions stagger from scandal to scandal. During good times, money has been squandered on a range of vanity projects and high executive pay with redundancies to follow when funding becomes tight. 
Recognising the contribution that democratic governance can make to stabilising institutions and preparing the ground for collaboration and long-term planning, UCU Cymru believes that Wales can do better. 
 So please use this link to vote in our poll prior to Feb 10th

Affiliation to Trade Council  

The Cardiff Trades Council brings together unions to campaign around issues affecting working people in their workplaces and local communities. They have helped us link up with other Trade Unions and raise thousands of pounds in donations to our strike funds over the past few years.  As affiliates to the Trades Council we are entitled to delegates, who can attend Cardiff Trades Council meetings on behalf of our UCU branch. Please contact the branch administrator (ucu@cardiff.ac.uk) if you would like to be a delegate or to find out more. 

Solidarity and Events  Labour Leader Hustings 

Labour students are hosting a labour leader Hustings with Vaughan Gething and Jeremy Miles at the university on Friday 9th between 6 and 7:30 in John Percival Room 2.03. They are specifically inviting UCU members and the branch is to be given one question to ask. Get in touch if you.  UCU Hustings – 17th February from 11:00am – Centre for Student Life  Our branch is hosting UCU’s Welsh hustings for the election of the union’s General Secretary and Vice-President (FE). 

Whether or not you have already voted, this event provides a great opportunity to impress on the candidates, most of whom will travel to Cardiff to attend in-person, the importance of the contribution Welsh UCU branches can make.  There has been a sense within the HE and FE branches across Wales that the concerns of the Welsh UCU branches, and their representatives have not been getting the attention they deserve with UCU at a UK level.     

 The hustings will take place in the Centre for Student Life, and will run as a hybrid event, with online access open to all members more widely.  If you can attend in-person that would be much appreciated as we aim to make this a positive and enjoyable event to increase engagement with the candidates and amongst members from Cardiff and other branches.  We are organising the hustings on behalf of all the other branches in Wales including FE, hence needing to hold the event on a Saturday.  

  If you would like to submit a question for the candidates, please use our online form: https://forms.office.com/e/i4fGQpNuzG  Contact for this event: Chris Graves.   

International Holocaust Remembrance Day 

 On January 27, 1945, the Auschwitz camp was liberated by the soldiers of the 100th and 322nd Rifle Divisions of the Soviet 60th Army. Since, on this date, we mark the International Holocaust Remembrance Day to remember the 6 million Jews and the many queer people, communists, Roma travellers and people with disabilities, among others, who got killed by fascism under the Nazi ruled Germany. We also remember the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.   UCU has resources available to mark this day, that you can check here.       

We send solidarity to our Jewish members and to all of those who feel affected by these events.     Stand With Gaza Workplace Day of Action  UCU, along with other unions, NEU and PCS, are endorsing the UK-wide Workplace Day of Action on 7 February (flyer below) organised by Stop the War Coalition (StWC) and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). Staff and students are called to participate and gather at 1pm if they are free. Note this is not a call to taking strike action, time spent needs to be compensated or this should be during your lunch break. If you have admin or teaching duties at that time, you could try and reschedule them if possible.   Cardiff UCU members will be there with the banner and the beanies, come and join us.  More information on this another Gaza-related activities and statements are found at https://www.ucu.org.uk/CeasefireNow   UCU members have created a national network of University and College Workers for Palestine. They created resources for members and will be meeting every Monday at 7.30 to build the network. Please register here for next Monday’s organising meeting.  UCU Cardiff members have been attending the Palestine marches every Saturday in Cardiff or London. Please contact the office (ucu@cardiff.ac.uk) if you would like to link with other members and join the marches together.   The next Welsh march on Saturday 10th February at 12.30 in Swansea, by Castle Square SA1 1DW. Supporters from Cardiff will be taking the train together, please get in touch if you would like to know more details. The following Saturday the march will be back in Cardiff.   

18th September Strike Update

Branch negotiators met with the Vice-Chancellor last Wednesday (13th September) to discuss the punitive pay deductions imposed on members at Cardiff University for their participation in the Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB). On Friday (15th September) we received an offer from the Vice-Chancellor, which was discussed by branch members at an Emergency General Meeting that afternoon. 
The offer was that the University will not make any deductions for MAB participation taken after 1st August 2023, subject to staff members fully re-engaging in and prioritising marking duties, with all marking completed and in SIMS by 6 October 2023 at the latest. This offer is in exchange for the branch calling off next week’s local strike action (25th – 29th September).
Branch members voted to accept this offer and this morning the branch Executive Committee wrote to the Vice-Chancellor accordingly. The strike action next week will therefore not take place.
We have clarified for the Vice-Chancellor that the branch remains profoundly unhappy with how salary deductions in relation to the MAB took place and that we will continue to press the University Executive Board to return any and all punitive elements of deductions.
We have also requested that that individual extensions to the 6th October deadline be granted in cases where such large marking loads mean that despite prioritising, members are unlikely to be able to meet the deadline. Please contact the branch (ucu@cardiff.ac.uk) if you will be unable to meet this deadline and an extension is not granted for you. We remind members that while the MAB, and our local strike action have been called off, our Action Short of Strike, which includes working contracted hours, remains in force until the end of the current mandate (i.e., until 00.00, midnight 1st October).
This has been an extremely difficult period for many members, especially for those participating in the MAB, and re-engaging in making duties will come with further challenges. Please check in on your colleagues who have been participating in the MAB and offer support. Unity is our strength, and these colleagues need our solidarity.
For those who did not participate in the MAB, please donate what you can to the solidarity fund. The offer we have accepted from the Vice-Chancellor will not see lost salary returned to members who participated in the MAB: please consider donating the salary you would have lost by striking next week to help these members who have carried much of this dispute for us.
Please donate directly to help make sure the whole of your donation goes to members:Account Name: UCU Cardiff LA12 Fighting FundSort code: 60-83-01 Account no: 20341260

Or through GoFundMe (which charges a fee):https://www.gofundme.com/f/cardiff-ucu-marking-and-assessment-fighting-fund
Finally, balloting for a new mandate of industrial action opens tomorrow (Tuesday 19th September). Please vote and get in touch if you don’t receive your ballot paper.

July 7th 2023 MAB Update

This message is in addition to our message earlier in the week on the status of deductions and the fighting fund. There is information about upcoming strikes over graduation, an update on the dispute and a lot more.
Graduation week strikes 17-21 July
You may have seen that the chair of UCEA and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen George Boyne was revealed to have expressed disappointment that MABing UCU members were not going to have pay deducted until the June pay-packet with the immortal words “I’d prefer pain along the way.” Proof, if proof were needed, that deductions to staff pay are a coordinated punitive action, coming from the very top of UCEA. Here at Cardiff, our resistance to that punitive response continues as we take our local strike action into Graduation Week. Our plan is to maintain a friendly presence outside St Davids Hall to make our point and engage with supportive students – inviting them to take a photo with a pink ‘❤️UCU’ sash. It is important that we know in advance who will be available, so it would really help us if you could sign up for a specific slot below and try to spread yourselves out so that we can cover the whole week.
Please sign up for a slot at our graduation strike by adding to our spreadsheet.
Update on our dispute – the MAB and upcoming negotiations
You will have seen from the General Secretary’s emails (subjects “UPDATE ON EMPLOYER NEGOTIATIONS AND THE MAB” and “UCEA willing to re-enter negotiations”) that there may have been some movement from UCEA, at least there seems to be an offer to meet and move in the direction of negotiations. As ever, there is robust debate taking place within the union about what this means and how optimistic we can be given recent track records of negotiation coming to an end and ‘pauses’ of action. Below are some links to articles and petitions representing different perspectives.
What is clear is that we would not have got here were it not for the actions of all of those taking part in the MAB. It has been an unprecedented action, representing real courage in the face of unknowns and uncertainties. Often we have been finding that it is junior and less securely employed colleagues who are engaging most steadfastly. This is truly humbling. In other schools, professors have stepped forward to take up the bulk of the burden. It is clear that the University underestimated and thought they would be able to ride this out, but their plan has not worked. The action is also reaching its crucial phase, we know that many individuals are coming under increasing pressure from some Heads of School, and we urge you not to give up now. Do come along to our MAB solidarity meetings if you need support – see times and links below:
https://tinyurl.com/UCUSM-MABstateUCU Solidarity Movement statement and petition: Defend the MAB!
https://uculeft.org/dont-suspend-the-mab-keep-up-the-pressure-wheres-our-ballot%ef%bf%bc/UCU Left: Don’t suspend the MAB, keep up the pressure – where’s our ballot?Report on HEC meeting 30 June 2023
https://medium.com/@DyfrigJones/stop-trying-to-make-sellout-happen-f0a16d92a2d7Stop trying to make “sellout” happen, Dyfrig Jones
https://notesfrombelow.org/article/university-worker-7th-july-2023Notes from Below: The University Worker – Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory
https://www.ucea.ac.uk/our-work/collective-pay-negotiations-landing/2023-24-new-jnches-pay-round/Record of correspondence between UCEA (employers’ association) with UCU and joint trade unions
Communicating about the MAB with students
Students are being sent their results this week. Many students have incomplete results. The University has been focusing on those students in graduation years. Many students currently have incomplete transcripts. They may have received pass awards or no award at all. They will be looking for advice, and will often be asking staff they know and trust instead of calling one of the ‘helplines’ that have been set-up.
Given the confusion and upset among the students, the importance of ensuring that they understand why the action is being taken, and the need for them to understand exactly how the University has tried to circumvent its effects, we encourage you to communicate with your students if you have been participating in the boycott. It is very important in so doing that you do not try to elicit a particular response from your students, but equally they are entitled to know what their options are. As a Union we should at all times be trying to build trust and solidarity with our students; our fate is intertwined. We appreciate that communicating with your students can be a very personal matter, but we have provided an updated template for you in order to help you construct what may be a difficult message for you. 
Follow the links for our template for communicating with students about the MAB: in Welsh and in English.
We have been hearing that staff in some schools have been told that they must run correspondence with students past college communications and marking staff first. We have also heard that other staff have been told to copy school managers into correspondence. This is an entirely unwelcome intrusion into our professional custom and practice, as well as our ability to build trust with students. Unfortunately, at this time, it seems necessary to recommend compliance with these procedures. Please let us know if any of your comms are ‘rejected’ as part of these processes by sending the rejected messages to the branch email address: ucu@cardiff.ac.uk 
Support student-led petition for fee refunds
Sabbatical officers at the Cardiff University Students Union have started a petition to call for fee refunds. They and other student groups have shown us great solidarity, and we can support them in turn by signing and sharing. They welcome signatures from staff and students, as well as supporters outside the university. Sign here: https://www.change.org/p/cardiff-university-end-the-mab-by-supporting-ucu-ucea-negotiations 
Save the dates: 15 July and 18 July
We have also planned two actions that should provide a relaxing and much needed respite. 
Saturday 15 July: Solidarity Badge-Making session with students. 1-3pm in Umbrella, Capitol Centre – come along and craft in solidarity with students.
Tuesday 18 July: The Alternative Graduation Party – fundraiser gig from 7pm at the Moon, Cardiff. Music from Rhys Dafis, and more TBA – a chance to come together and let our collective hair down.
Next MAB Solidarity Meetings:
Next week:Tuesday 11 July @ 10.30amThursday 13 July @ 10am
During strike week (Graduation Week) solidarity meetings happen on the picket line and/or via virtual picket.
Week commencing 24 July:Wednesday 26 July @ at 1pmFriday 28 July @ 10am
It is the same zoom link each time for the solidarity meetings:https://cardiff.zoom.us/j/81847133601?pwd=bWhKVmZ6emNxdW13cGMvOWdPVllyQT09 Meeting ID: 818 4713 3601Password: 210544
The meetings last 1 hour, but please feel free to drop in and out whenever you like.
MAB WhatsApp group
We have created a WhatsApp group for all members taking part in the MAB – to ask questions, share how it’s going, offer ideas, or request support. E-mail the office ucu@cardiff.ac.uk to join.

June 23rd 2023 MAB Update

You will have received an email from the Vice-Chancellor today attempting to encourage those participating in the Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB) into giving up their action.This move demonstrates the effectiveness of the MAB, despite what official University communications may say about the ‘small numbers’ of staff taking part. 
We strongly encourage our members to stay firm and hold the line. There is financial support for you from National UCU and our local fund. Donate to the branch GoFundMe if you can.
Our strikes targeting the open days on 30 June and 1 July will go ahead, in the absence of meaningful concessions from the University. Details and a provisional schedule are at the end of this email.
Please join our general meeting on 28 June at 1pm to discuss these developments and prepare for the strike.
Update from meeting with VC and communications from UEB
Yesterday (Thursday 22nd June), the VC and University Executive Board (UEB) finally met with us to discuss the dispute and their punitive approach to salary deductions for those participating in the MAB. The content of today’s email from the VC was not discussed with us at the meeting, and it was clear that they were not prepared to engage in meaningful negotiations. They did not agree to jointly call for a return to negotiations between UCU and UCEA (University and Colleges Employers Association) and were reluctant to even consider following other universities in reducing the punitiveness of pay deductions.
The VC argued that he can’t break rank with his VC colleagues. The growing list of other universities that have broken ranks to make joint statements show it is very possible, but UEB and the Vice-Chancellor, while claiming to act in the interests of students, also seem motivated by a desire to not appear to have conceded anything to us.
They did ask us to send them written proposals on reducing strike deductions for them to consider, which you can read on the branch website. Their reply and the VC’s email today show again that they were not serious about considering any further proposals. 
Instead, we have received an all-staff email from the Vice-Chancellor announcing a new policy of ‘encouraging’ members taking part in the Marking and Assessment Boycott to give up their participation in exchange for fully backdated pay. It requires missing marks to be submitted on a very tight timeline, by July 3rd.
This move does not represent a less punitive approach to members who continue to boycott, so the upcoming strike days targeting the open days on Friday 30 June and Saturday 1 July remain justified. The move is designed to create divisions between us, and will in fact create further EDI issues because some people who might be tempted to abandon the MAB now will not physically be able to carry out their marking. (The EDI issues exacerbated by the deductions was a point we made in the meeting.)
This bad-faith offer represents all the more reason to hold the line, and join if you have not done so already. We remind members that the national UCU has pledged financial support for those facing 50% deductions, and that our local solidarity fund is continuing to grow and can help people who fall outside the national UCU pledge. The GoFundMe is doing very well, and we have also had so many donations directly to the branch account that it is likely we will reach our target. Donate to the branch GoFundMe if you can.
Upcoming strike days
Next week, Cardiff UCU members will strike on the university-wide Open Days – Friday 30 June, and Saturday 1 July.
These strikes are part of the escalation approved by branch members to protest the punitive 50% pay deductions imposed by Cardiff Uni and it is vital everyone joins to help build pressure. These strike days could be what makes the difference in us achieving fairer MAB pay deductions and building pressure in support of the national dispute.
Two months into the MAB, colleagues who continue to participate stand to lose half of their pay for this entire period – effectively losing a month’s pay in one payslip. This is an immense sacrifice by these members. Its toll is mental and emotional as well as financial. We believe this is unfair and, following motions passed by members at our General Meetings, we have called these strike days to pressure the University Executive Board (UEB) to lessen these reductions, and to publicly call on UCEA to negotiate with UCU and ultimately end the MAB.
We urge all members to join these strike days, whether or not you have been able to participate in the MAB. We need your solidarity. We need you to show the employer that their response to the MAB has been unfair and disproportionate. This is an opportunity for all members to support the ongoing fight for better pay and working conditions for all staff.
What if I haven’t been in the MAB? 
These strikes are for every single member in our branch – all of us. If you haven’t been in the MAB for any reason, this is a vital opportunity for you to support those who are MABing at a crucial time. Every boycotting member will appreciate and welcome your support. Not everyone can take part in the MAB, by its nature. We do not need to let this divide us. We must stand together in the face of our attempts to wear us down. Every member has a role to play next week. We are stronger together.
What if I don’t work on Saturdays?
If you join our pickets next Saturday but you are not due to work that day you will not lose any pay. It will count as joining in solidarity, not officially being on strike. Join us! The same goes for if you are not due to work on Friday 30 June – you will not lose any pay for joining, all the more reason to join and show your support.
Plan for Open Day Strike 1: Friday 30 June
08.30 Assemble for picket: Outside the Main Building opposite the Centre for Student Life on Park Place
12.00 Informal rally with music
~17.00 Cardiff UCU social event – at Brewhouse and Kitchen, Sophia Garden (More details closer to the time.)
Plan for Open Day Strike Day 2: Saturday 1 July
08.30 Assemble for picket(s):  Outside the Main Building opposite the Centre for Student Life on Park Place
12.00 Informal rally with music
13.00 Cardiff UCU social event – Family picnic in Alexandra Gardens
Banner-Making Workshop – Wednesday 28 June at 5pm
We’re having a banner making workshop on Wednesday 28th June at 5pm in the Students Union. This is to make banners and placards for the open day strikes on 30th June and 1st July.
Meeting point: 5pm around the lobby area of the students union (between the Taff and the canteen ‘Food at Y Plas’). Come up the main steps from Park Place and it’s the first area inside the building you get to.
Please forward this invitation to anyone whose fancy it might tickle.
Just bringing yourself would be great. If you also have any paints or other materials you wish to bring along please do that too!
Byddwch wedi derbyn e-bost gan yr Is-Ganghellor heddiw yn ceisio annog y rhai sy’n cymryd rhan yn y Boicot Asesu a Marcio (BAM) i roi’r gorau i’w gweithredu. Mae’r cam hwn yn dangos effeithiolrwydd y BAM, er gwaethaf yr hyn y mae cyfathrebu swyddogol y Brifysgol yn ei ddweud am ‘niferoedd bach’ o’r staff yn cymryd rhan.
Rydym yn annog ein haelodau i sefyll yn gadarn a dal eu tir. Mae cymorth ariannol ar gael i chi gan UCU Cenedlaethol a’n cronfa leol. Cyfrannwch i’r GoFundMe os gallwch chi.
Bydd ein streiciau sy’n targedu’r diwrnodau agored ar 30 Mehefin a 1 Gorffennaf yn mynd rhagddynt, yn absenoldeb consesiynau ystyrlon gan y Brifysgol. Mae manylion ac amserlen dros dro ar ddiwedd yr e-bost hwn.
Ymunwch â’n cyfarfod cyffredinol ar 28 Mehefin am 1pm i drafod y datblygiadau hyn a pharatoi ar gyfer y streic.
Diweddariad o’r cyfarfod gyda’r Is-Ganghellor a chyfathrebiadau gan UEB
Ddoe (dydd Iau 22 Mehefin), cyfarfu’r I-G a Bwrdd Gweithredol y Brifysgol (UEB) â ni o’r diwedd i drafod yr anghydfod a’u hagwedd llym tuag at ddidyniadau cyflog y rhai sy’n cymryd rhan yn y BAM. Ni thrafodwyd cynnwys yr e-bost heddiw o’r Is-Ganghellor â ni yn y cyfarfod, ac roedd yn amlwg nad oeddent yn barod i gymryd rhan mewn trafodaethau ystyrlon. Nid oeddent yn fodlon galw ar y cyd am ailgychwyn trafodaethau rhwng UCU ac UCEA (Cymdeithas Cyflogwyr Prifysgolion a Cholegau) ac roeddent yn amharod i hyd yn oed ystyried dilyn prifysgolion eraill i leihau cosbau didyniadau cyflog.
Dadleuodd yr I-G na all dorri cwys ei hun yng nghyswllt ei gyd-Is-Gangellorion. Mae’r rhestr gynyddol o brifysgolion eraill sydd wedi torri o’r rhengoedd i gyhoeddi datganiadau ar y cyd yn dangos ei bod yn bosib iawn, ond ymddengys bod UEB a’r Is-ganghellor – tra’n honni eu bod yn gweithredu er lles myfyrwyr – hefyd yn cael eu hysgogi gan awydd i beidio ag ildio unrhyw dir i ni.
Gofynnwyd inni anfon cynigion ysgrifenedig atynt iddynt eu hystyried ar leihau didyniadau streic, y gallwch eu darllen yma. Mae eu hateb ac e-bost yr I-G heddiw yn dangos eto nad oeddent o ddifrif am ystyried unrhyw gynigion pellach.
Yn hytrach, rydym wedi derbyn e-bost i’r holl staff gan yr Is-Ganghellor yn cyhoeddi polisi newydd o ‘annog’ aelodau sy’n cymryd rhan yn y Boicot Asesu a Marcio i roi’r gorau iddi, er mwyn hawlio’u tâl yn ôl, wedi ôl-ddyddio’n llawn. I’r diben hwn mae angen cyflwyno marciau coll ar amserlen dynn iawn, erbyn Gorffennaf 3ydd.
Nid yw’r cynnig hwn yn golygu agwedd llai llym tuag at aelodau sy’n parhau i foicotio, felly mae’r dyddiau streic sydd i ddod, sy’n targedu’r diwrnodau agored ar ddydd Gwener 30 Mehefin a dydd Sadwrn 1 Gorffennaf, yn parhau i fod yn ddilys. Mae’r cynnig wedi’i gynllunio i greu rhaniadau rhyngom, a bydd mewn gwirionedd yn creu problemau cydraddoldeb pellach, oherwydd ni fydd rhai pobl a allai gael eu temtio i roi’r gorau i’r BAM cyflawni’r marcio mewn pryd. (Roedd y materion cydraddoldeb sydd wedi’u dwysau gan y didyniadau yn bwynt a wnaethom yn y cyfarfod.)
Mae’r cynnig gwamal hwn yn cynrychioli mwy fyth o reswm i sefyll ein cornel, neu ymuno yn yr ymdrech os nad ydych wedi gwneud hynny’n barod. Rydym yn atgoffa’r aelodau bod yr UCU cenedlaethol wedi addo cymorth ariannol i’r rhai sy’n wynebu didyniadau o 50%, a bod ein cronfa undod leol yn parhau i dyfu ac yn gallu helpu pobl sydd y tu allan i’r addewid cenedlaethol gan yr UCU. Mae’r gofundme yn gwneud yn dda iawn ac rydym hefyd wedi cael cymaint o roddion yn uniongyrchol i gyfrif y gangen ei bod yn debygol y byddwn yn cyrraedd ein targed. Cyfrannwch i’r GoFundMe os gallwch chi.
Dyddiau streic sydd i ddod
Yr wythnos nesaf bydd aelodau UCU Caerdydd yn streicio ar Ddiwrnodau Agored y brifysgol gyfan – dydd Gwener 30 Mehefin, a dydd Sadwrn 1 Gorffennaf.
Mae’r streiciau hyn yn rhan o’r dwysau a gymeradwywyd gan aelodau’r gangen i brotestio yn erbyn didyniadau cyflog llym o 50% a osodwyd gan Brifysgol Caerdydd, ac mae’n hanfodol bod pawb yn ymuno i helpu i gynyddu’r pwysau. Gallai’r diwrnodau streic hyn gwneud y gwahaniaeth wrth inni geisio didyniadau cyflog BAM tecach, a chynyddu pwysau o ran yr anghydfod cenedlaethol.
Ddeufis ers cychwyn y BAM, mae cydweithwyr sy’n parhau i gymryd rhan yn debygol o golli hanner eu cyflog am y cyfnod cyfan hwn – i bob pwrpas yn colli mis o gyflog mewn un slip cyflog. Dyma aberth aruthrol gan yr aelodau hyn. Mae’n draul feddyliol ac emosiynol yn ogystal ag ariannol. Credwn fod hyn yn annheg ac – yn dilyn cynigion a basiwyd gan aelodau yn ein Cyfarfodydd Cyffredinol – rydym wedi galw’r diwrnodau streic hyn i roi pwysau ar Fwrdd Gweithredol y Brifysgol (UEB) i leihau’r gostyngiadau hyn, ac i alw’n gyhoeddus ar UCEA i drafod ag UCU ac yn y pen draw ddod a’r BAM i ben.
Rydym yn annog pob aelod i ymuno â’r diwrnodau streic hyn, p’un a ydych wedi gallu cymryd rhan yn y BAM ai peidio. Mae arnom angen chi i gydsefyll. Mae angen i chi ddangos i’r cyflogwr bod eu hymateb i’r BAM wedi bod yn annheg ac yn anghymesur. Mae hwn yn gyfle i bob aelod gefnogi’r frwydr barhaus am well cyflog ac amodau gwaith i’r holl staff.
Beth os nad ydw i wedi bod yn rhan o’r BAM?
Mae’r streiciau hyn ar gyfer pob un aelod yn ein cangen – pob un ohonom. Os nad ydych wedi bod yn y BAM am unrhyw reswm, mae hwn yn gyfle anhepgor i chi gefnogi’r rhai sy’n BAMio ar adeg hollbwysig. Bydd pob aelod sy’n boicotio yn gwerthfawrogi ac yn croesawu eich cefnogaeth. Ni all pawb gymryd rhan yn y BAM, oherwydd ei natur. Nid yw hyn yn rheswm i’n rhannu. Rhaid inni sefyll gyda’n gilydd yn wyneb yr ymdrechion i’n blino a’n nychu. Mae gan bob aelod rôl i’w chwarae wythnos nesaf. Rydym yn gryfach gyda’n gilydd.
Beth os nad wyf yn gweithio ar ddydd Sadwrn?
Os ymunwch â’n picedi dydd Sadwrn nesaf, ond nid ydych yn gweithio’r diwrnod hwnnw ni fyddwch yn colli unrhyw gyflog. Bydd yn cyfrif fel ymuno mewn undod, nid bod ar streic yn swyddogol. Ymunwch â ni! Mae’r un peth yn wir os nad ydych i fod i weithio ddydd Gwener 30 Mehefin – ni fyddwch yn colli unrhyw dâl am gyfrannu, mwy fyth o reswm i ymuno a dangos eich cefnogaeth.
Cynllun ar gyfer Diwrnod Agored Streic 1: Dydd Gwener 30 Mehefin
08.30 Ymgynnull ar gyfer piced: Y tu allan i’r Prif Adeilad gyferbyn â Chanolfan Parc Bywyd Myfyrwyr 12.00 Rali anffurfiol gyda cherddoriaeth ~17.00 Digwyddiad cymdeithasol UCU Caerdydd – diodydd yn Brewhouse and Kitchen, Gerddi Soffia
Cynllun ar gyfer Diwrnod Agored Diwrnod Streic 2: Dydd Sadwrn 1 Gorffennaf
08.30 Ymgynnull ar gyfer piced(i): Y tu allan i’r Prif Adeilad gyferbyn â’r Ganolfan Bywyd Myfyrwyr ar Blas y Parc 12.00 Rali anffurfiol gyda cherddoriaeth 13.00 Digwyddiad cymdeithasol UCU Caerdydd – Picnic teuluol yng Ngerddi Alexandra
Gweithdy Creu Baneri – Dydd Mercher 28 Mehefin am 5pm
Rydym yn cynnal gweithdy creu baneri ar ddydd Mercher 28 Mehefin am 5pm yn Undeb y Myfyrwyr. Mae hyn er mwyn creu baneri a phlacardiau ar gyfer y streiciau diwrnod agored ar 30 Mehefin a 1 Gorffennaf.
Man cyfarfod: 5pm o gwmpas cyntedd Undeb y Myfyrwyr (rhwng y Taf a’r ffreutur ‘Bwyd yn Y Plas’). Dewch i fyny’r prif risiau o Blas y Parc a dyma’r rhan gyntaf o’r adeilad y byddwch chi’n ei gyrraedd.
A fyddech cystal ag anfon y gwahoddiad hwn ymlaen at unrhyw un sy ffansi’r sesiwn.
Byddai dod â dim ond chi’ch hun yn wych. Os oes gennych chi hefyd unrhyw baent neu ddeunyddiau eraill yr hoffech ddod gyda chi, gwnewch hynny hefyd!

MAB Update 15th June 2023

We are getting increasingly concerned about the threats to academic standards posed by the university’s measures to ‘mitigate’ the effects of our marking and assessment boycott (MAB). Scroll down for our advice on supporting the MAB around exam boards.

Here are some of the ways the university is trying to erode assessment standards and quality assurance processes:

  • Some module grades may be processed without second marking or full moderation.
  • The exam board meeting may be deemed quorate without all module representatives present, and even if only the chair alone is there, combined with scope for the chair to be anyone with an ‘understanding of the marking process’. 
  • Modules with missing marks may be skipped over at exam board meetings (to be addressed later at a ‘reconvened’ exam board). 
  • Some module grades will be calculated on single assessment items (rather than the complete set) if it is considered that learning outcomes have been met.
  • Some modules are being ‘discounted’. 
  • There are reports that some students will graduate with ‘unclassified degrees’.
  • There is a risk that students in some subjects will be able to graduate while others do not.
  • In addition, those in earlier years will be able to progress with even less modules/credits than those required to graduate, and will also miss out on the valuable feedback/feedforward that will help them to improve for future years.

In the light of this threat to standards, Cardiff UCU members can valuably contribute to the MAB by either (a) boycotting exam boards entirely (i.e. not turning up) or (b) attending exam boards and persistently speaking up, to uphold academic standards. Which of these is more disruptive may vary depending on the circumstances.

(a) Boycotting exam boards

  • Boycotting exam boards will send a signal that you do not accept the ‘mitigations’ that the University has pushed through. 
  • If you are not already participating in the MAB, you can join the MAB at any point and you may feel that the exam board is a good time to join.

(b) Attending exam boards to uphold standards

  • Another way of contributing to our marking and assessment boycott is to attend exam boards, uphold academic standards as stringently as possible, and forcefully refuse to accept the ‘mitigation’ measures that the university is trying to push through.
  • If you are attending school exam boards, we encourage you to voice your concerns in relation to the progression and/or degree award indicated for each and every student.
  • Doing this reflects the fact a core part of all of our jobs is to uphold academic standards and to protect the quality of our degrees.

We urge our employer to settle the dispute. We are ready to enter into negotiations at any time.

Contributing to the local fighting fund

Please keep donating to the local fighting fund if you can, and share the details with others.

Donate via GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/cardiff-ucu-marking-and-assessment-fighting-fund

Or donate via direct bank transfer:

Account Name: UCU Cardiff LA12 Fighting Fund

Sort code: 60-83-01 

Account no: 20341260

Or send a cheque (payable to “UCU Cardiff LA12 Fighting Fund”) to: 

Cardiff UCU

49b Park Place 

Cardiff 

CF10 3AT

We have so far raised a total of £15,175 (£10,775 from our GoFundMe and £4,400 in direct bank transfers) – over three quarters of our target of £20,000!

Cardiff UCU Executive Committee

MAB Updates 25th May 2023

We are writing to update you on our ongoing marking and assessment boycott (MAB), which is now entering its fifth week. Participating in the marking and assessment boycott (MAB) can be confusing and challenging on multiple fronts, but we are hearing from some schools that it is already having an effect. Thank you to colleagues who are making sacrifices to participate – our branch fundraiser is going well in support of them, raising £5,500 in its first week.
We have written to University Executive Board (UEB) to explain that UCU have served notice for strike action in relation to UEB’s punitive deductions policy. Members decided at a branch EGM on the 28th April to escalate to targeted strike action if UEB refused to revisit its punitive deductions policy. Unfortunately, UEB has not altered its position on deductions. In order to protect our ability to conduct this form of industrial action now and in the future, we need to escalate to strike action. We are targeting specific dates over the summer, including “graduation ceremonies”, clearing and Clearing Open Day in August, and Welcome Week in September. We hope that the UEB will reconsider and that we will not have to take action on these days, but are resolute that they will go ahead if necessary.
This is a difficult time. This first national MAB is coming on the back of on-and-off industrial action over the last five years and in the face of our real-terms incomes being decimated. Employers in the sector are increasingly hostile to their staff, and are continually ‘innovating’ new ways to degrade pay and working conditions and then stop us from taking industrial action when we refuse to let these degradations go. We need to be able to take industrial action like MABs to make our employers listen. And, regrettably, we need to strike when our employers do everything they can to stop us doing the things we need to do to be heard.
In the rest of this email, we have a few ‘asks’. To complete our MAB survey, to donate to the fighting fund if you are not participating, and to collect data about marking in your schools or units where you can. There are also suggestions for increasing the effectiveness of our MAB by making the administration of pay deductions as difficult as possible for our employer.
If you want to discuss anything about the MAB or strike days, come along to MAB solidarity meetings, talk to other members, catch your dep rep for five or email the branch office at ucu@cardiff.ac.uk.
MAB survey
If you haven’t already responded to our branch survey about participation in the MAB, please do so. There are options if you are not sure. There are options if you will not be participating. Every response helps us to get a clearer picture of where are our action is:
https://cardiffucu.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/cardiff-ucu-marking-and-assessment-boycott-2023
Branch fighting fund GoFundMe
We have raised £5,500 for our fighting fund since we launched the branch GoFundMe last week. Diolch yn fawr to everyone who has contributed so far. What we have raised so far will provide tangible help to members participating in the action.
We have had donations of all sizes –thank you all– but we would make even more rapid progress to our goal of £20,000 with a larger number of small donations. Please, donate £50 to the fund if you are not participating. Money is tight for a lot of people at the moment, but this dispute is about the future of the whole higher eduction sector in the Wales and in the UK. We need to show our employers that they cannot simply ignore us.
Donating £50 will cover a day of strike pay. Donating £250 will cover a week of strike pay. Donating £1080 will cover strike pay for a month. The more people we have in the dispute and the better we can support them, the more quickly this dispute will come to a head.
If you want your donation to go even further, please consider giving directly. This is perhaps less visible than GoFundMe, but it means that even more can go into the pockets of members taking action on behalf of everyone:
Account Name: UCU Cardiff LA12 Fighting FundSort code: 60-83-01 Account no: 20341260
Or send a cheque (payable to “UCU Cardiff LA12 Fighting Fund”) to: Cardiff UCU49b Park Place Cardiff CF10 3AT
Don’t make it easier for our employer to make deductions!
Everything that happens at this university happens because staff professionally work to their briefs, whether they have been given specific instructions or (more usually) not.
In this dispute, Cardiff University management is attempting to take advantage of the professionalism of staff in order to get away with making punitive deductions while getting you to volunteer your labour. Don’t let them do this.
Our action is effective because it disrupts the business of the University. We can add to the disruption of participating in the MAB by making it as administratively difficult and complex as possible to take away our wages.
What follows are some suggestions of things to do to help back-up your action.
Ask for clarity about the tasks you are being asked to complete
The University has stated that it does not accept partial performance and that any work you complete while MABing will be ‘voluntary’. The University has also said it will, at this moment, leave you with 50% of your pay in recognition of the ‘other duties’ that you may be completing.
It is critical that you ask your manager to enumerate which tasks, specifically, they are expecting you to complete in order to receive the 50% pay for completing ‘other duties’. Our contracts are vague and generally do not contain lists of specific duties. It is reasonable, therefore, for you to seek specific direction from your manager about the tasks you need to complete to receive the 50% payment.
Where you have not received direction to complete a particular task, or your manager refuses to give you any directions, then you should consider your work on all tasks to be voluntary (as this is what your employer has indicated).
At this point, you should think carefully about the tasks you complete. You may choose to continue ‘as normal’ with the rest of your duties. If you do so, you should do so on the basis that recovering any unpaid wages for this voluntary work will be exceptionally difficult. Alternatively, you may decide that, given you are only being paid 50% of your salary, you will be very much more selective with the tasks that you complete.
For example, you may wish to ask for direction from your manager over whether they want you:To supervise PGT students. You may prefer not to ‘volunteer’ to complete this task in the absence of direction.To complete mandatory training. You may prefer not to ‘volunteer’ to complete this task in the absence of direction. (We’d suggest you complete fire safety training in any case, though.)To continue to work on externally funded projects (see below). You may prefer not to ‘volunteer’ to complete this task in the absence of direction. To complete tasks that are especially important to the University or your school or unit (rather than your individual career). Meetings with important external and internal stakeholders, “graduation ceremony”-related activities, open days, meetings with external accrediting agencies, visible outreach activities, anything that may be necessary to help build an impact case study, etc. You may prefer not to ‘volunteer’ to complete this task in the absence of direction.
Be strategic about what tasks you volunteer to do, if any. Be clear with your manager that you are asking to be directed to complete tasks at their discretion in order to receive 50% of your wages. If you volunteer to complete certain tasks, try to make sure these are tasks that are of obvious direct benefit to your career. Where the balance for a task is more weighted toward your school or the University, you may want to consider whether you want to work on these tasks without proper remuneration.
Ask about external funders
Is part of your time currently externally funded? If you are participating in the MAB, ask your manager whether the University intends to inform the funder that they have told you your work on the project is voluntary and that any pay you receive will be at a fraction of the rate at which the University will be intending to invoice.
If you have asked for specific direction to work on the project and not received it, you should ask your manager how the University plans to proceed if you decide not to voluntarily complete this task. Depending on your funding arrangements, the University may be in breach of its contract with its funder if you are not directed to perform the work and refuse to volunteer to work for half or no wages. Make sure any directions from your manager to complete this task are in put in writing. If you are in this situation, we advise you discuss with your dep rep or with the branch (ucu@cardiff.ac.uk) before you take any firm decisions.
Collect any data you can about marking progress in your school or unit
Our employer is claiming that deductions can begin the moment work becomes available. This is obviously not custom and practice for marking and assessment. Where you are able to obtain information in your school or unit about the progress of marking (e.g., of UG final year projects, of modules with completed marking), make a record of it. If you can do this week by week, this will help to establish what we already know – almost no marking starts the moment the deadline for an assessment passes.
Been told to prioritise marking? Even more important to have data
Has your Head of School or Director made a ‘reasonable management request’ requiring you to prioritise your marking? The University is doing this to try and justify deductions at the earliest possible moment, and to force you to decide whether to participate earlier so that they can work around your action.
In all cases where you have received this message, you should reply to your HoS or Director to explain that, as part of our industrial action, you are working a 35hr week (or which ever proportion of that you work if you are a part-time member of staff), and that you require instructions on which tasks to deprioritise in order to prioritise marking. You will need these instructions so that you can inform students, colleagues, collaborators, funders and stakeholders that you have been told to deprioritise your work with them. (Rather than you simply choosing to deprioritise them yourself.)
Where all staff in a unit or school have been instructed to prioritise marking, it is reasonable for staff to expect that this instruction will be fairly and evenly enforced. If all staff have been asked to prioritise marking, all staff should be doing that, regardless of whether they are likely or unlikely to participate in the MAB. Try to collect data about how these instructions are being enforced. If you find that this instruction is being selectively enforced for some staff (e.g., known active UCU members) but not others, we’d like to know about it by email to ucu@cardiff.ac.uk or through your dep rep. The branch would consider the selective enforcement of reasonable management instructions to the detriment of active UCU members (e.g., having to cancel time-sensitive tasks that cannot be deferred) to be a form of victimisation.
Where you have been given an individual instruction to prioritise marking, try and find out whether your colleagues who have MAB-related responsibilities have been given similar instructions. If they have not, ask the person who issued the instruction to prioritise marking why you, particularly, have been given this instruction. Let us know what response you get by email to ucu@cardiff.ac.uk or via your dep rep.
All of these actions are going to make more work for someone else in the University. This may feel a little awkward in some instances. You are so used to completing your tasks with very little oversight that you may feel like you are not being collegial by asking these kinds of questions. Ask yourself whether it is collegial for your financial security threatened with punitive salary deductions because you are refusing to perform one very small part of your job.
If you are not sure how to proceed in your situation, discuss it with your dep rep or email ucu@cardiff.ac.uk.

May 17th 2023 MAB Update

This email to members focuses on the marking and assessment boycott (MAB) that members are currently participating in.
One hundred and thirteen members have told us they are actively participating in the boycott. Another 40 members have told us they are still making up their minds. Twenty-four members have told us that they don’t have duties that they can refuse. Thirty-six have told us that they don’t intend to participate. We know that staff in CARBS, CHEMY, COMSC, EARTH, ENCAP, GEOPL, HCARE, JOMEC, LAWPL, MEDIC, MLANG, OPTOM, PHYSX, PSYCH, SHARE, SOCSI and BIOSI are participating. We know from other branches that a MAB is a form of industrial action that requires fewer participants to be effective than for a strike. It may feel you’re doing this alone, but you’re not. Remember, you can join the MAB at any point, even if you have already done some of your marking.
If you’ve not told the branch about whether you intend to participate yet, please complete the very short (60-seconds) branch survey:
https://cardiffucu.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/cardiff-ucu-marking-and-assessment-boycott-2023
The branch wrote to UEB regarding its deductions policies on the 4th May. A reply was received on Friday (12th). Unfortunately, the UEB was unable to bring any further clarity to its policies (some of which appear to have been surreptitiously changed). The branch asked UEB what it was doing to put as much pressure on UCEA to end the dispute as it was attempting to put on staff, but UEB is sticking to its line that “[a]s these are national collective matters, it requires both UCEA and the national trade union representatives to find a route through to a solution.” It is not clear what solutions can be found while UCEA refuses to negotiate with UCU. It ought to be surprising that our employer does not seem interested in effecting a change to this position.

Contributing to the local fighting fund

We are asking each member who is not participating in the MAB to give £50 to the branch GoFundMe, with the goal of raising £20,000 for it in the first instance. Participating in the MAB will cost your colleagues thousands of pounds. Much smaller sacrifices from members not participating would help ease the burden and help them to sustain action on your behalf.
Our GoFundMe: https://gofund.me/f7e70767
Marking boycotts take time to build pressure on employers. The longer that we can collectively support colleagues to stay in the action, the more pressure we can can collectively exert on our employers.
Our branch treasurer has done some rough calculations, and found that a Grade 6, Spine 33 member engaged in the MAB is losing approximately £1200/month. To fully compensate everyone participating is not what we are aiming to do – not all members will need this level of support, even if we had the funds to provide it. But we do need to grow our local fighting fund in order to support members most financially affected by their participation.
The Birmingham UCU branch has raised a local fighting fund of £50,000. If we could raise even half of that we’d be in a much stronger position when it came to supporting members in the most difficult positions. If every member not participating in the MAB made a £50 contribution, we’d breeze past £20,000!

Participating in the boycott

We are asking everyone to participate to the fullest extent possible. The more tasks members refuse to perform, the more pressure we can put on our employer. If you are struggling to work out how to participate, please talk to your branch rep, or come along to one of the MAB solidarity meetings to talk about it. We are refusing tasks assigned to us as individuals, but this is a collective endeavour!

Solidarity meeting for Welsh speakers on Friday at midday

[Fersiwn Cymraeg 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿]
Ydych chi’n siarad Cymraeg? Do you speak Welsh? The branch is running a Welsh-medium solidarity meeting at 14.00 on Friday 19th May. The meeting is open to all members, not just staff in the School of Welsh. The meeting will take place entirely in Welsh. Unfortunately, Zoom is not able to provide live captioning for Welsh. If you are not a Welsh user, please do consider coming along to one of the other MAB solidarity meetings that have been scheduled. Diolch!
Please join on Zoom:
MAB solidarity meetings
Regular MAB solidarity meetings are taking place and are open to all members. Whether you have questions about the action, are thinking about taking part, or just want to talk about how things are going, please do join.
Wed 10 May at 12pm Tue 16 May at 10am Thu 18 May at 10amMon 22 May at 1pmWed 24 May at 11am
On Zoom: https://cardiff.zoom.us/j/81847133601?pwd=bWhKVmZ6emNxdW13cGMvOWdPVllyQT09
Cardiff UCU

November 2023 Newsletter

As you will have seen, UCU did not make it over the required 50% threshold in the latest UK-wide aggregated ballot for industrial action nationally. Thanks to everyone who spoke to colleagues about the vote  – we know that many of you are committed to the democracy of your union, but that we are working against laws created to hinder and undermine trade union action.  

We are also aware that for many the last year has been difficult, frustrating and exhausting, and that some members have become disillusioned with union leadership. It is inevitable that there will be differences in what members think the best approach is or should be, but it is important that we can come together to discuss these differences.

With that in mind, we would like to devote some time at the next General Meeting on 16 November to discuss what we can do in terms of a local strategy. As always, the branch has continued to work on local issues throughout the industrial action and the section below will share details and updates from some of our strands of work, including upcoming campaigns that we need all members and colleagues to get involved in.

In the wider current context, many of our members are involved in organising and supporting events and actions in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Information on some events which are taking place in the coming days are at the end of this email.

Our participation in Y Sgwrs Fawr – The Big Conversation

The branch requested to be consulted as part of the Vice Chancellor’s listening exercise. We have now been invited to speak with her along with other campus unions. Negotiators expect to meet with her in the coming weeks. In order to guide discussion, branch officers have written this document. It  sets out our position based closely on UCU policy and our established local priorities. It is not meant as the totality of what we wish to say as part of Y Sgwrs Fawr, but sets down the basic principles. We welcome feedback from members on the document and there will be a chance to discuss and feed in additional points for us to make in the next General Meeting.  

Help us tackle precarity – Members meeting on ‘relevant factors’ – 1pm Tue 21 Nov  

Please join a members meeting on the University’s use of ‘relevant factors’ at 1:00pm on Tuesday 21 November.

Register on zoom here

The University uses what it calls ‘relevant factors’ to circumvent its duties around job security – see more details below and on the Cardiff UCU Website. Cardiff UCU is currently negotiating with the University to end its use of this kind of casualised employment.

Our negotiations have progressed and we now wish to consult members on our way forwards.

We particularly encourage less securely employed members to attend, including:

  • Staff employed on ‘open-ended contracts with relevant factors’
  • Staff employed on fixed-term contracts
  • Postgraduate researchers (whether teaching or not)
  • Staff employed on variable-hours contracts

More securely employed staff are also welcome to join the meeting and discussion, though will be asked not to vote.  

Workload and wellbeing

The university continues to bury its head in the sand when it comes to excessive workloads and their impact on staff health and wellbeing. A recent article in BLAS stated that “when it comes to workplace wellbeing, Cardiff University is in a strong position”. But their own staff survey shows that around half of staff based in the three colleges are not able to agree, either strongly or mildly, with the three statements that together are taken as an indicator for staff wellbeing in the University (see table below).

(Aggregated percentages from the most recent Staff Survey by area of the University where staff work. AHSS is the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, BLS is the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences, PSE is the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, and PS is centrally-located Professional Services.) 

We are training more members as Workload Reps and will be starting workplace stress inspections from January 2024.  

More member support is always welcome – if you’re interested in contributing to the Workload Campaign, please email rcampbell@ucu.org.uk. This could involve small tasks like talking to colleagues, helping to analyse inspection and survey results, or sharing information and campaign materials. 

Academic Related and Professional Services (ARPS) Staff 

Cardiff UCU are proud to represent ARPS staff. We know that UCU often gets incorrectly labelled ‘the lecturers union’ in the media, but ARPS staff have always made up a significant proportion of our membership, reps and executive committee. We have recently put some more information on the branch website about who we represent and how this relates to the other trade unions on campus, which you can direct colleagues to if they are unsure what union to join. As we leave ‘Build the Union’ month, if every member speaks to one colleague about joining a union, whether that’s UCU, Unite or Unison, we could strengthen our membership and our joint collective bargaining power! You can find more resources here.

At the recent Joint Consultative and Negotiating Forum with the other campus unions and members of the University Executive Board we raised the specific issue of changes to lower grades that was brought by ARPS members to a General Meeting. The response was clear that there will be no movement on this unless we and the other unions escalate it. We are not planning to let this drop. 

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) 

Our EDI group continues to work on areas of concern for our members. Here are some recent successes and updates:  

  • The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) for migrant members can now be claimed under the relocation policy and allowances. We note that this is a good improvement but still leaves staff on fixed-term contracts to pay for subsequent visa and IHS requests and we will continue to raise this with University management. 
  • The university has agreed to work with us on developing dedicated anti-sexual harassment policy and procedures 
  • Reasonable adjustments: we know that members often face difficulties getting the reasonable adjustments they are entitled to, and we are looking for members with knowledge of reasonable adjustments to help with our work around this 
  • We are looking for members to help us work on an anti-racist strategy for the union – please get in touch if you are in a position to help us with this. 

Solidarity with Palestine 

There are many events taking place in the coming days at which members may wish to support the Palestinian people.  

Wednesday 8th 

The Muslim Council of Wales has sent the following request for action: This Wednesday 8th November there is a debate taking place in the Senedd tabled by Plaid Cymru calling for an IMMEDIATE CEASEFIRE.  

It is VITAL that the motion passes and the amendment fails putting pressure on the UK government to call for a ceasefire.

We need your support by writing to your MS BEFORE Wednesday 8th November.  

We have made this task easy for you by taking the following two steps. Click on the link below to see how: 

http://bit.ly/ceasefirewales 

Also on Wednesday 12pm – Vigil at Senedd hosted by Cardiff Stop The War. Oxfam has contacted them to ask if people could come at lunchtime (therefore 12pm) for politicians to speak to people outside the Senedd regarding their concerns, before they start the plenary at 1.30pm. There will be a demonstration at the Senedd during the debate itself which is due to start at 17:25.  

Thursday 9th 5pm – 7pm Documentary screening fundraiser for medical aid 

Dyddiau Du in the Capitol Centre  

One More Jump (2019), 1h 13m, Fundraiser for the Palestinian Medical Relief Society  

Gaza Parkour Team founder Abdallah has managed to escape Gaza. His friend Jehad still lives there, training young athletes for whom sport remains the only thing imbued with hope amidst the conflict. Is it better to leave to fulfil your dreams or stay and fight for your country? The question is the common thread running through this deeply moving account of sport, friendship, and exile.

Saturday 11th Demonstrations in London and Cardiff

National March for Palestine @ Hyde Park to US embassy 12.45pm.

Please register your interest if you would like to attend the National Protest for Palestine in London.
Saturday 11th November Pick up: 8:00am from National Museum, Cardiff Return: 5:00pm from Hyde Park, London Price to be confirmed but will be approx. £25 per person.

For any queries, please contact Asif via WhatsApp on (ask branch for contact ucu@cardiff.ac.uk) or sign up here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfsUWbwUIgH_EWnhp3JcjpRPPR1_0oVh_efUPp0YYsl8RzhOA/viewform  
– Local Cardiff march organised by BLM to happen again from Nye Bevan statue at 12pm
Yours,
Cardiff UCU

October 2023 Newsletter

It is not long since our previous email communication, but we have a few important things to update you on:

  • Upcoming General Meetings
  • University governance campaign – please vote
  • Callout for members to respond to the consultation on USS pensions scheme
  • Callout on collective and individual grievances
  • Get the vote out campaign
  • Llanelli Unites Community Fun Day on Sunday

Upcoming General Meetings

We have scheduled two upcoming General Meetings.
The first meeting will be Thursday, October 12th 1pm to discuss the ballot and strategy. This discussion will feed into the larger UCU consultation on strategies to win the pay and working conditions dispute.  A UCU national negotiator will also be present to speak about the USS dispute.
There was an issue with the link to the papers that we sent yesterday. We have resolved this issue and produced a new link. The full agenda and papers can now be found on SharePoint.
As ever, members are encouraged to submit their own motions. The deadline for motions is Monday 9th October, and they should be sent to the branch secretary, Ryan Prout.
Join the meetings using the following link: https://cardiff.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAsfu2rrjkuHteBmdnNyJfGwuNt_yhEqfbV Passcode: 289979
The second General Meeting will be on Thursday, November 16, 2023 1PM to discuss the ballot results and our local plan moving forward. We will send joining information closer to the time.

University governance campaign – please vote

Our branch has been actively running a campaign calling for more and better democratic governance structures at universities. Members of the Governance and Democracy working group have met with Welsh politicians to expose the need for better governance structures. A motion was passed at the UCU Wales congress to survey all members in Wales on this topic to add strength to this campaign.
You should have received an email on the 19th May 2023, from yoursay@ucu.org.uk, with the subject “UCU Cymru consultation on democratisation of university governance”, followed by reminder emails, all containing your personal link to vote. If you have not already done so, please vote now – this is a very small survey that will just take a minute.  
If you are interested in knowing more about our University Governance working group, please get in touch.

Callout for members to respond to the USS pensions scheme consultation

Our negotiators have requested that we respond as individuals to a consultation on changes to USS. See the link here and a negotiator’s report on the consultation.
More in-depth information on the context and possible considerations for members when they respond are in an appendix at the bottom of the email, but the shorter branch position on the questions posed by the consultation are below. Members are strongly encouraged to word answers in their own way.
Question 1: This appears reasonable and much better than the current situation – we encourage members to support it.
Question 2: Pensions in Post-92 institutions have much better accrual rates: 1/57 for Academic staff and 1/49 for Academic-related and Professional Services staff. Members may want to suggest that this gap be closed by improving the accrual rate beyond the proposed 1/75.
Question 3: This appears reasonable and much better than the current situation, members are encouraged to support it.
Question 4: Members could observe that other pension schemes offer options for affordability other than a blanket reduction of employer contribution rates (e.g. 50/50 and progressive contributions).
Question 5:  This only affects people being paid more than £66,000k, so the acting pension officer didn’t feel able to give a recommendation.
Please come to the General Meeting on the 12th October to hear more about the USS dispute from a national negotiator and bring any questions you might have.

Get the vote out campaign

We appreciate that this is a difficult time in the 4 Fights dispute. Many members feel dispirited after the long marking and assessment boycott (MAB), which has not seen the response we had hoped for from employers. It was employers’ choice to react as they did to the impacts of the MAB, and in the process hurt staff and students, instead of engaging with our demands for fair pay and working conditions. Our action was not, however, in vain. It showed university managers our strength in causing significant disruption, and demonstrated our need for and commitment to fighting for better and fairer working conditions. Winning another ballot will send our employers the message that we have not been defeated, and that this fight will not end without meaningful negotiations that offer real prospects for change.
Locally, the strength of our branch has been pivotal in the progress we made and are making in ongoing local and national negotiations related to casualisation, inequality, workload and others.
It is also worth reminding ourselves what has happened to our salaries. The fact is that against the CPI we have lost around 32 days of pay from our yearly wages against inflation just since the start of the pandemic in 2020 to date – that’s negative 8.9%, even with the 2% and 3% pay rises. This works out to losing around five weeks of pay a year since 2020, – about 23 working days.
Our negotiators count on you to demonstrate our collective strength and engage with the union’s democratic processes by posting your ballot as soon as possible. Please do so and let us know that you voted either by replying to the texts or to your dep reps so that we can effectively reach those members who still need reminding. Many members are very grateful for the reminders and the more members who tell us that they have voted, the more resources we have to reach others. Please note that we are not asking how you have voted, just to tell us whether you have voted.

Callout on collective and individual grievances

The ways in which deductions were made for participation in the MAB were disproportionate and punitive. Some members are submitting grievances to the University about this. If you are interested in being involved in either individual or collective grievances in relation to the MAB deductions, please get in touch with the branch.

Llanelli Unites Community Fun Day

Sunday October 8th 12-4pm
A large number of progressive organisations are supporting a UNITY event in Llanelli on Sunday. This has been organised in response to the recent mobilisation of far right and racist groups against refugees at the Stradey Park Hotel.
Gareth Lloyd, the new UCU Cymru Official, will be attending with the UCU banner and members of our branch will be there too. If you can, please come along to show support. If you would like to arrange transport with other members who are going, please email the office and we will try to connect you.  
Email Llanelliunites@gmail.com for more information on the event.
If you would like to get involved in our branch’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion working group, please let us know. We are in the process of creating a role on our executive committee to deal specifically with racism and race equality and we would welcome volunteers to support this process.

Appendix on USS
Recording of the USS briefing 20th Sept 2023:

Slides: https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/14031/Presentation-restoration-of-USS-pension-benefits/pdf/UCU_SWG_USS_restoration_presentation_230920.pdf
FAQs: https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/14032/USS-presentation-regarding-benefit-restoration–recovery-questions/pdf/UCU_USS_restoration_presentation_-_questions.pdf  
Negotiator’s detailed suggestions for members responding to the consultation.
Cardiff UCU