Branch newsletter, November 2022

Welcome to this November 2022 newsletter.

In this newsletter you can read about:

  • Ballot outcomes and next steps in disputes
  • Cardiff University Students’ Union vote on support for industrial action
  • Branch meetings for ARPS members
  • General Members’ Meeting motion on module evaluation scores passed
  • University Research Culture Survey and Target Operating Model Feedback
  • Mechanical Ventilation of teaching spaces/offices/ meeting rooms

Branch News & Updates

Ballot outcomes and next steps in the dispute

As you will likely have already seen, the aggregated ballots produced a high national turnout (58% for the pay and conditions dispute, 60% for the USS dispute) and strong yes votes for action. UCU is the first education union to win a mandate in a nationally aggregated ballot since the introduction of the anti-trade union turnout threshold introduced in 2016.

We don’t have the disaggregated figures for the turnout at individual branches, but our own record keeping suggests that we very likely exceeded the 50% turnout threshold and made a strong contribution to the national mandate. Thank you to everyone who voted, and everyone who worked so hard knocking on doors, ordering replacement ballots, and checking in with colleagues.

The national Higher Education Committee (HEC) met on Thursday evening (3rd November) to decide what action should be taken in respect of the ballot mandates obtained. Three days of strikes have been called for this month:

  • Thursday 24th November
  • Friday 25th November
  • Wednesday 30th November

Action short of strike (ASOS) starts from the 23rd November. As part of ASOS, UCU is asking members to:

  • work to contract (meaning that you only fulfil the duties explicitly expressed in your contract)
  • not undertake voluntary activities
  • not cover for absent colleagues
  • refuse to reschedule classes missed due to industrial action
  • remove materials for classes that would have taken place on strike days from online learning platforms.

There will be an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) on Thursday 17th of November at 13:00 so that we can collectively discuss the local character of the action that we will be taking. Please look out for specific communications about the action over the next few weeks.

Cardiff University Students’ Union vote on support for industrial action

The Cardiff University Students’ Union Annual General Meeting (AGM) is on 24th November from 5:30PM to 9PM. There will be a vote on a motion to support UCU’s industrial action. Support from our local students’ union will help our cause as we take action later in the month. We encourage our PGR members to engage with the AGM and to vote on the motion to support our action.

Branch meetings for Academic-Related Professional Services members

To better engage with the things that are important to Academic-Related Professional Services (ARPS) members, the branch is holding a series of one hour lunchtime and late afternoon meetings, two in person and one online. We want to obtain your views on:

  • the primary issues facing ARPS staff,
  • the priorities Cardiff UCU branch should be focusing on in relation to the university’s Professional Services.
  • how UCU locally and nationally can better represent ARPS staff.

The meetings are as follows;

In the next few years Professional Services staff are highly likely to see changes in many ways we work and are managed, the way our career development is supported and how our performance is evaluated. Cardiff UCU wants to know how you would like us to represent you.

We look forward to seeing you at one of these three events and thank you in advance for giving us your views. This is your opportunity to directly meet members of the branch executive.

General Members’ Meeting motion on module evaluation scores passed

At the recent members’ meeting, a motion on “Numerical targets for student module evaluations” was passed. The full wording of the motion is available on the branch website. The motion notes many of the issues with numerical targets on module evaluations, especially the ways in which responses can be biased against certain members of staff (e.g., women, people of colour). There have to be better, fairer ways for staff to be able to advertise the strengths of their teaching. We will be raising the motion in our next negotiation meeting with senior management. We will let you know what the University’s response is when we have it.

University Research Culture Survey and Target Operating Model Feedback

The University is currently running two sets of consultations. One is about research culture, and one is about a ‘target operating model’ (TOM) for the University (i.e, changes to working practices for professional services). It might seem that the former is targeted at staff in academic roles and the latter targeted at staff in professional services, both are open to all staff and we encourage all members to respond to them. It is easy (and sometimes very much appropriate) to be sceptical of these ‘consultation’ exercises. Nevertheless, if staff don’t tell their stories, then it’s a license to the University to come up with its own.

The Research Culture Survey is an online form that is open until the 30th of November.

There is one remaining Target Operating Model ‘listening session’ on the 8th of November, and there still seem to be spaces available. If you’re not able to attend the session, then there is also a webform for you to leave your thoughts.

Sandy Gould, one of the Branch Executive Committee members, attended the ‘listening session’ in Mackenzie house on the 27th of October and had this to report to members:

“It was an interesting morning. Staff are, as you would expect, extremely knowledgeable about the barriers they face in trying to get their jobs done. All the staff in the sessions I attended spoke with alacrity about their roles and where the University needs to focus its attention. For my part, I thought it was noteworthy that the University had chosen to start this process with senior university managers, and not staff at the sharp end who are often left to carry the can for decisions taken by senior managers. Whether what was said during the listening sessions is actually heard remains to be seen.”

Cardiff UCU has not been consulted on the development of a TOM. On the 26th of October, we wrote to the University’s Chief Operating Officer to ask when we could expect the University to honour its commitment under the recognition agreement that sets out how the University and campus unions interact with one another. We have not yet received a response.

Mechanical ventilation of teaching spaces/offices/meeting rooms

UCU opposed the recent University proposal to alter the mechanical room ventilation systems across the University to revert back to the pre-Covid pandemic use of a blend of fresh air and recycled air instead of fresh air only until assurance could be given that the change would meet Welsh Government ventilation guidelines on using CO2 levels as an indicator of maintaining good ventilation.

As a consequence of your local branch raising our concerns the systems will continue to use fresh air only until that assurance can be given.

Should members have any concerns over ventilation in any of the rooms that they use then please contact the UCU office.

Events, solidarity and wider campaigns

Cardiff Climate Justice Coalition Protest

Saturday 12 November, 12 noon, Cardiff. More information will be published shortly. Part of global day of action coinciding with the latest round of international climate talks.

Facebook event page:

Global temperatures, rising. Energy bills, rising. Billionaire profits, rising: To stop this crisis we need action that cuts carbon, tackles inequality and ends the injustices baked into our world.

Stonewall record of support on trans rights

Stonewall are running a “handraiser” campaign in support of trans rights. It’s a little bit like a petition, and you can opt-in to receive more updates from Stonewall. You can sign the record of support at Stonewall’s webform.

People and Planet campaign to defund border industry success at CardiffMet

CardiffMet has become the first university in the UK to divest from the border industry. The border industry supplies the tools and means for upholding unjust border policies. CardiffMet’s most recent ethical investment and banking policy promises to “screen out border industry companies”.

UCU Climate and Ecological Emergency

The UCU Climate & Ecological Emergency Annual Meeting will be on Thursday 10 November. Unfortunately, the time to register has now passed, but there is a recent overview of UCU’s work on the climate and ecological emergency is here: