1. Dispute Update
Following the failing negotiating efforts between UCU and UEB to agree on a public commitment by the University that no worker should be forced to work face-to-face on campus, it seems as if we have no option but to proceed to a formal ballot for industrial action (strike and/or ASOS). Recent developments suggesting that the University’s Test & Trace has been put into place in a rush and has a potential high rate of false negatives that has not been properly assessed, add to our general concerns of safety on campus. You can read about it here.
We are conscious of the difficulties of holding a strike under the current circumstances and we will be exploring with members what our action could look like. Please do get in touch with your ideas for imaginative and effective forms of action short of strike, and please attend next week’s General Meeting (see below) where we can discuss this.
Please get in touch with us if you can help with our Get-the-Vote-Out campaign, as this will be crucial to the success of our action.
We also urge all members to update their contacts on our database to ensure that your ballot will be sent to your home address. You can do that here or by emailing the office (firstname.lastname@example.org).
2. General Meeting next week – Friday 12th February 1.10pm
There will be a branch General Meeting of members next Friday on Zoom to discuss the current dispute in light of the mandate for industrial action given by the indicative ballot, and our next steps as a branch.
We appreciate that there has been a high volume of general meetings lately but these times are exceptional and your views and these discussions are essential for the members-led leadership that we are trying to maintain. Please join if you can.
To register for the meeting, please complete this form:
3. UCU HE Sector Conference & Wales Congress
The HE Sector Conference will take place on Saturday 17th April 10.30am – 12.30pm and the UCU Wales Congress and AGM will take place on Saturday 24th April 2021, via Teams.
Issues relating specifically to HE will be dealt with in the Sector Conferences, to which each Branch is entitled to submit 2 motions and 2 amendments. Overall policy issues for Wales or wider political issues will be dealt with at the Congress, to which each Branch is also entitled to submit 2 motions and 2 amendments.
Our branch is entitled to 23 delegates with voting rights (but more members can join as observers). If you would like to attend either event or both as a delegate for our branch, please get in touch with the office. All delegates much be registered by noon on 2nd April. This is an important opportunity to represent our members in shaping the priorities of UCU Wales and we strongly encourage members to put themselves forward – we usually do not fill all the places we are entitled to.
We also encourage members to submit motions to the branch to be voted by members at our AGM and decide which motions to put forward as a branch for the Sector Conference and for the Congress. Motions must be no longer than 150 words, not including titles. Titles must not be more than 10 words. Guidance on how to compose a motion can be found here. All motions must be submitted to the branch office ahead of our branch’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 10th March.
4. Home working and childcare
We are receiving various communications from members on issues relating to home-working and childcare, including key-worker status for HE staff. Some universities are using furlough or putting in place a Special Leave scheme for these cases. While Cardiff University has increased dependents’ leave, it is disappointing that it is suggesting that staff use their annual leave or take unpaid leave in order to fulfil their responsibilities as carers.
HE staff have “essential worker” status under the Welsh government guidance. This means that some members may be able to send their children to school on that basis. However, we know that this is not a solution for all members. Besides adding pressure to the schools and posing greater public health risks, resourcing to key-worker status among HE staff has a number of important limitations. For example, to our knowledge, Cardiff Council and some neighbouring authorities will only grant a place if both parents (or one, in a single parent household) cannot work from home. In addition, school places are likely to be limited because of the huge demand. Please check the guidance to see if you qualify.
Despite Cardiff University’s reluctance to use furlough, this can be a possibility for staff with home-schooling responsibilities. UCU National has released guidance on requesting furlough for staff in those circumstances, which you can read here and we advise our members to discuss it with their line managers.
We will continue to attend regular COVID meetings with members of senior management, which resumed this week, and will push for solutions that reduce pressure on staff, for example by reconsidering managerial-type work such as PDR and REF. We are preparing a document to share with members on this issue, please get in touch if there are any particular problems/solutions that you would like us to raise with management.
We also propose to hold a meeting with members specifically to address childcare issues and we encourage you to get in touch with the office to register your interest for this.
5. Nominations for the branch Executive Committee
Nominations for next year’s Executive Committee (September 2021 to August 2022) are now opened and need to be received by 10th February (28 days before the AGM).
The current Executive Committee have gaps for the roles of Media and Communications Officer, Policy Officer, and Disability Representative. Nominations for these roles would be particularly helpful but all nominations will contribute to the democratic and participative nature of our branch. We encourage members to consider submitting nominations to any roles they feel compelled to take (each person can submit as many nominations as they wish). If you would like to discuss the roles with the current Executive Committee members, you can find their contacts here.
You are the Union!
6. UCU National Disputes – Survey on Industrial Action
The New Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff (JNCHES) negotiations 2020/21 have ended, following the conclusion of the dispute resolution process, and the employers have made a final offer, which UCU believes falls short of the demands made under the four fights dispute.
A members’ consultation on whether to accept the offer or not will start on the 8th February through an e-ballot (make sure not to miss it in your inbox) and in the meantime, UCU is surveying members regarding the possibilities of further industrial action, including how members’ views about industrial action are changing in the context of the pandemic and the increase in remote working. Please use the link to complete the survey before it closes on Wednesday 17th February. It should take about 20 minutes.
Or copy and paste the URL below into your Internet browser:
7. Senior Management Survey 2.0 – Moral Injury and HE during the pandemic
Researchers from the University of Brighton and University of Surrey, launched a ‘Senior Management Survey’ in 2017, which had 6000 participants and featured in the national media, ending up as the 74th most viewed and shared article in the world in 2020 (Altmetric.com). The article can be read here.
They have now launched a new Senior Management Survey which focuses on HE staff experiences of working throughout the pandemic, with a particular focus on how supportive senior managers have been and the extent to which staff have had to act against what they feel is morally right. The survey takes 5-10 minutes and can be found at the following link: https://brightonpsychology.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cGhF1Uc5CP9MZ1j