Welcome to this October 2022 newsletter. We will be sending you a newsletter at the start of every month with updates from the branch, with occasional emails in between if we have anything urgent to communicate with members. You can also follow our branch on media platforms (fb and twitter – links).
In this newsletter you can read about:
- Branch president’s message for the new semester
- Industrial action – please vote!
- Correspondence over summer agreement
- Academic Related Professional Services – New Rep
- PrideCymru and the trans* solidary group
- Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Priorities Survey
- Events, Solidarity and Wider Campaigns
Branch News & Updates
Branch president’s message for the new semester
As we start the 2022-23 academic year, I want to start by thanking everyone for their contributions to the branch last academic year. It was another year full of challenges and I have continued to be impressed at how the branch comes together in the face of these. I think we should all be proud of what we achieved together (see more information about some of these below).
We have an important year ahead with the current ballots, the ongoing work of our anti-casualisation, workload and Equality, Diversity, Inclusivity (EDI) working groups, as well as new initiatives (more information about some of these below). This also looks set to be an important year for the Trade Union movement more broadly, with increased strikes across a number of unions as well as increased cross-union activities, which are vital particularly in the current climate of increased attacks on pay and conditions and the cost of living crisis. As always, please get in touch if you would like to get more involved with our branch activities.
I also wanted to update you that I am due to be on maternity leave from 12th October till 12th April and will therefore have reduced involvement in the branch during this period. Vice Presidents Joey Whitfield and Andy Buerki, along with Renata Medeiros Mirra as branch Chair, will cover my duties in my absence. A full list of the 2022-23 Executive Committee is available on the branch website. I look forward to continuing in my role where possible!
Cardiff UCU Branch President
Members are currently being balloted for industrial action, including strike action. You should have received your ballot by post. If you have not, please contact your local rep, or email the branch office. A replacement ballot can then be arranged for you.
In this aggregated ballot, UCU is relying on large branches with significant organising capacity to get over the 50% threshold nationally. It’s imperative that as a branch we reach 50% – ideally significantly higher – to help make up for smaller branches with lower density where organising is harder.
So far, we know that 39% of eligible Cardiff UCU members have voted. We’re on track, but still have some way to go. You can help getting us there by reminding your colleagues to vote and adding a banner to your email signature to make the campaign more visible. If you have already voted, please let us know, either by letting your local rep or the branch office know or by filling in the reporting form. Knowing which members have already voted really lets us focus our door knocking and other ‘get the vote out’ activities.
During previous negotiations with university management, we urged the VC to use his position with UUK and UCEA to prevent further action and we hope he will do so, even though we did not receive the unequivocal commitment we hoped for. Members supporting ballots (however they vote) is a strong signal to management that the branch membership is engaged and paying attention.
Earlier this year, we avoided a marking boycott because our strong mandate for action brought our VC to the negotiating table and we were able to secure some important local demands, such as UCU’s involvement in the work for the new workload model.
However, we were very clear to state that we would continue the fight for better working conditions and fair pay. Our pay this year is going to be at least 7% below inflation after already falling 25% behind in real terms over the last decade. Our pensions have been cut tremendously – cuts which have subsequently proved to be unnecessary. Universities are too slow and too slippery when it comes to giving the most precarious staff the stability that they deserve.
Please do vote – if not now, then when?
On Wednesday 12th October, we have a branch General Meeting, where members can bring any questions about the ballot and the industrial action. Please save the date. Papers for the meeting will be sent very soon.
Correspondence over summer agreement
The branch came very close to launching a marking boycott. After negotiations with management, an agreement was put to members. Members responded favourably to the agreement, and the boycott was called off. The branch wants to make sure that that University is keeping up its end of the agreement, and wrote to the Vice-Chancellor over the summer to find out which actions the University had taken toward fulfilling the agreement. We have received a response from the Vice-Chancellor, which included the University’s letter to UCEA over pay. The branch will continue to seek updates from the University for members on its progress in completing ongoing work in aid of the agreement.
Academic Related Professional Services (ARPS)
Graham Getheridge has recently taken on the role of ARPS rep. Here is Graham’s introduction:
Dear UCU members,
My name is Graham Getheridge and I have taken on the role of Academic Related Professional Services (ARPS) Representative for the Cardiff University Branch.
I am based in the College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences and am involved with supporting students and staff with matters concerning student employability and work experience.
I have been working at Cardiff University for 10 years and have been serving on the executive committee for over 12 months. During this brief time I have been surprised by the amount of activities at branch and national level that involves roles undertaken by professional services staff.
Additionally, I have become aware of many existing professional services staff who do not engage with the union for one reason or another. I also feel we have the potential to attract new members to the union from the professional services community at Cardiff University.
It has been a difficult few years for many of us due to the pandemic and for many the return to campus can feel very daunting.
It is for this reason that the branch will be putting on a number of remote and face to face discussion events throughout the University during the new academic year. The aim will be to engage with ARPS staff and listen to what they want from their union and how they want their branch to represent them.
If you wish to know more about what UCU is doing nationally for ARPS members, please visit the national website here.
I look forward to meeting existing and new members in the months ahead at one of our ARPS events. Please look out for emails and newsletters for more details.
Wishing everyone well for the new academic year.
UCU Cardiff Branch: ARPS Representative
If you are ARPS staff and have a question for Graham, have something you want to report, or are wondering how you might be able to encourage your colleagues to join the union, please do contact Graham.
Pride Cymru and the trans* solidarity group
Over the 27th and 28th of August, several members of Cardiff UCU joined the Pride Cymru march through Cardiff. We were proud to be represented in the march and be able to walk with our branch banner. We hope we can go with even more members next year, when Pride Cymru will move to the 17th and 18th of June. Thank you to Matthew Keenan (https://instagram.com/matthewkeenanphotographer) for taking and letting us share this fantastic photos.
It’s also the time of the year when many new staff and students are joining the University. The trans* solidarity group has been working hard on welcome posters, so let folks know that we’re happy they are part of our community. The solidarity group has invited everyone to print off these posters for display; if you’d like to do so, please download the full resolution images so that the print-outs do them justice!
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Priorities Survey
Our EDI working group launched a survey to learn about your experience and needs regarding equality, diversity and inclusion at work, to inform Cardiff UCU’s priorities this academic year and beyond. You can fill the survey here (https://cardiffucu.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/cardiff-ucu-edi-survey-v4?fbclid=IwAR3L0mSDe02KhNqsHGp8Tec2m08XSIpSrbvofHzi8Efz6SId4zJU-8BNrOc)
Depending on how much detail you want to provide, the survey should take around 5-10 minutes to fill in. Feel free to share with other colleagues who work for Cardiff University (the survey is open to everyone, not just to UCU members).
Please engage with it so that we can represent you better. If you would like to get involved in our EDI working group, please contact email@example.com and we will get in touch.
Events, solidarity and wider campaigns
Wales Organising Network
The UCU Wales office will begin holding organising network meetings later this year. These meetings will be an opportunity for UCU reps, members with an interest in organising, and members currently running campaigns on their worksites to come together to discuss current campaigns and share best practices.
Organising reps will be invited to these events as a matter of course; if you would like to attend but do not currently hold a position as an organising rep, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the distribution list.
Support industrial action
Workers in many sectors have already voted to take industrial action. Many others are being balloted. The Communication Workers’ Union, always strong supporters of UCU action, are taking further strike action over the coming weeks. Royal Mail members will strike on the 30th September and 1st of October. Perhaps consider putting a post in your window to show support for your postie? CWU members will also be striking for four days during October.
Legal action against strike-breaking legislation
The government will attempt to pass legislation that allows agency workers to break strikes. Eleven unions have launched legal action against this attempt to break legitimate strikes. The right to strike is an fundamental one; unions must resist government attempts to legislate in ways that make it all but impossible to do so.