Newsletter 21/07/2021

 

This is your Cardiff UCU July bulletin. Please read our Branch News & Updates to be informed about the branch activities and campaigns, and check the Events and Solidarity & Wider Campaigns sections for ways to get involved in the branch and beyond.

 

In this bulletin we share some recent union successes with you, as well as providing updates on our local dispute about the workers choice not to work face-to-face during the pandemic and our ongoing UK-level fight to retain our pensions’ benefits. We also share concerns regarding UEB’s decision to restructure the research institutes (including some closures) and provide some insights on the changes to the University’s car parks.

 

In these challenging times, standing our ground and stopping cuts and further degradation of our working conditions is already a victory that we should celebrate. Fighting to keep our rights is a worthwhile fight but union work can feel draining and discouraging at times as the “Red Queen Hypothesis” often seems to hold true: “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.” -Lewis Carroll. When sharing good news with our members, it feels great to be reminded of something even better, that together we can do more than that and bring positive changes to our workplaces.

 

As we approach the middle of the summer, we hope all our members have a chance to rest and relax ahead of the next academic year. You can still reach us throughout the summer (ucu@cardiff.ac.uk) to get support, submit any queries, report on issues, join our workgroups or become a dep rep, send comments and suggestions or any other reason. It is great to hear from members and feel the union alive with ideas and solidarity.

 

“variety is life; uniformity is death”

Peter Kropotkin

(Russian activist, essayist, researcher and writer)

 

  1. One-off payment to all Cardiff University staff
  1. Progress in our Anti-Casualisation Campaign: Relevant Factors, Variable Hours & Postgraduate Workers
  1. Dispute over choice not to work face-to-face during the pandemic
  1. USS Pensions – The Fight Goes On
  1. University Car Parking
  1. UCU HE Special Sector Conference on HE Disputes
  1. Discrimination in UK universities

Plus upcoming events and wider campaigns.

Branch News & Updates:

1. One-off payment to all Cardiff University staff 

We owe thanks to our fellow Unison colleague, Katie Hall, whose work has resulted in University giving a one-off payment of £250 to all staff. This shows that the University recognise that staff have been undervalued and we will continue to push for long-term better pay and conditions. We hope this reward will reach everyone who contributed to keep the University going during the pandemic and our Anti-Casualisation Officer, Rachel Beaney, wrote to the Vice-Chancelor to clarify the terms of this award, please get in touch with us if you think you are being excluded.
2.  Progress in our Anti-Casualisation Campaign: Relevant Factors, Variable Hours & Postgraduate Workers 

We are very happy to be able to report positive progress in all three of our key areas of work within the anti-casualisation group!
Postgraduate workers 

We are very happy to report that after a long campaign the Teaching Delivery Governance group is recommending that postgraduates are offered contracts for their teaching roles in the University, which could be implemented in 2022. The is the result of years of great work by many of our current and previous members, including Grace Krouse, Rowan Campbell, Josh Robinson and Rachel Beaney. The Anti-Casualisation Campaign has shown incredible team work in great spirit of solidarity; this is still work in progress but we are hopeful of the outcome and we will continue contributing to the governance group discussions on this and other teaching related issues.

Many of you might not benefit directly from the fruits of this campaign, but it is contributing to a fairer and more pleasant workplace for all and it would not be possible without the power you impart on the branch by being a member.

This is an important outcome for out postgraduate members in particular. Cardiff University is one of the universities that currently does not recognise postgraduates as employees, which means they have fewer rights compared to other teaching staff or with postgraduates in other universities. You can read more about UCU’s manifesto for postgraduate researchers (PGRs) here.
Relevant factors 

We are happy to report that senior management has agreed to set up a process for revising the use of relevant factors (where an end-date is included on the end of “permanent” staff contracts). And to address the concerns we outlined in our recent claim, which you can read here. This claim was led by Ryan Davey after very helpful discussions with CURSA (Cardiff University Research Staff Association). This work should start in the next academic year, and we will keep members informed of its progress.

Unfortunately, we recently heard that Cardiff University plans to re-structure some research institutes and close at least two of them. Most people working for these research institutes are on open-ended contracts with relevant factor and many are being put forward for redundancy. These changes have been planned for at least 18 months but there was no meaningful consultation with the union (or with staff) on these closures and we are challenging these redundancies on that basis. If you are affected by this, get in touch with the office (ucu@cardiff.ac.uk) to help us build a stronger case and support you individually, if needed.
Variable hours 

We have good news from the School of Modern Languages, where the branch have been discussing a range of topics affecting hourly-paid staff with School management. The School has given us a commitment to contact all staff very soon with clarification on issues raised by our members. They have also recently confirmed that they will support a grading review of the “Languages for All” tutors, who have been working at grade 5, while performing tasks that align with a grade 6 teacher post. This review will start very soon. We are also discussing issues of hourly-paid staff with university management as part of the Teaching delivery governance group and we urge people on these contracts to join our Anti-casualisation workgroup and contribute to the discussions.

Many of you might not benefit directly from our Anti-casualisation campaign, but it is contributing to a fairer and more pleasant workplace for all and it would not be possible without the power you impart on the branch by being a member. Regardless of your situation with Cardiff University, you can help unravelling and breaking the iceberg of casualisation.

If you have any questions/comments, please contact the office (ucu@cardiff.ac.uk), or our Anti-Casualisation Officer, Rachel Beaney (Rock@cardiff.ac.uk).

3. Dispute over choice not to work face-to-face during the pandemic 

Following UEB’s recent good-will act of giving all staff a bonus payment in recognition of the hard-work and challenges that staff faced as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, we hope that another act of good-will empowering workers with a choice about face-to-face work will follow if the risks of the pandemic are still high at the start of the new academic year, as it seems likely to be the case.

As agreed at our General Meeting in June, if necessary, we will run a ballot in the Autumn to protect members who do not feel safe returning to face-to-face working on campus.

If you have been asked to work face-to-face during the summer and have concerns about that, please get in touch with your dep rep, the UCU office (ucu@cardiff.ac.uk), or our Health & Safety Officer, Andy Skyrme (skyrmea1@cardiff.ac.uk).

In the meantime, discussions of health & safety are ongoing in terms of planning for the next academic year and this thread on Twitter about indoor risks of COVID-19 spreading, by Professor Jose-Luiz Jimenez, a specialist in aerosols and disease transmission can be very helpful to inform any discussions among staff who are expected to work face-to-face. His COVID-19 Aerosol Transmission Estimator is freely available here.

 

4. USS Pensions – The Fight Goes On 

According to UCU Head Office, an amazing twenty thousand people have now used the UCU’s USS modeller to see how employers’ proposals would impact individual retirement benefits. It’s clear that university workers are extremely concerned about the future of the scheme. To find out how your pension might be affected, just input your date of birth and salary details then share how the cuts impact you by tweeting the results with #NotTodayUUK. Please also complete the survey at the end which will help inform our negotiations with employers and USS.

We submitted branch members’ views on the strategy to fight for our pensions at the last General Meeting and through a survey, these can be found here.

Cardiff University apparently shares concerns regarding the USS 2020 valuation but declined our request to make a public joint statement on these shared concerns. UUK’s position after consulting with its members (UK universities) is that there is support to proceed with the USS 2020 valuation that results in staff bearing the brunt of the proclaimed deficit and paying more into their pensions to maintain the current benefits.

The Financial Times published an article on USS, highly critical of 2020 valuation and referring to work by our member and pensions expert Woon Wong. Woon’s position is that we should fight to halt the October increase and replace the 2020 valuation with a new 2021 valuation that corrects the faults clearly highlighted.

Cardiff UCU executive committee will be calling an Emergency General Meeting that will include a vote on a branch’s financial contribution to a legal claim against the USS proposed by Ewan McGaughey, a reader in Law at King’s College, London, and KCL UCU branch president.

If you have any questions/comments, please contact the office (ucu@cardiff.ac.uk), or our Pensions Officer, David Atkins (@cardiff.ac.uk).

 

5. University Car Parking 

As members will be aware, University car parking suffered a number of significant issues for many years prior to the Covid-19 lockdown. Notably, eligibility to park was based on seniority and length of service and contraventions were unenforceable.

In 2019, UCU drafted a proposal for a more transparent, fair, needs-based scheme. In view of this and the University’s declaration of a Climate Emergency, a joint paper developed by UCU and Estates Operations requesting approval to review University parking arrangements was approved by the University’s HSE Committee. Shortly after that, Covid-19 changed the situation significantly!

As more staff are likely to return to campus from the autumn, it is essential that University parking works for those who need it most and UEB have now approved an outline proposal, based broadly on the original UCU draft – which all three trade unions have worked with Estates on, to introduce a new scheme from January 2022.

Detail around parking fees, management and policy compliance arrangements are still to be agreed but applications to determine parking eligibility will open soon and will be determined by use of a needs-based parking eligibility criteria aligned with the following agreed principles:

·         Childcare

·         Caring responsibilities

·         Non-standard / out of hours contracted hours

·         Access to Public Transport

This process will be supported by an appeals and exceptions panel which will include representatives of all three trade unions.

The University has scheduled two webinars to introduce the planned changes to parking which we strongly encourage interested members to attend:

You can register to attend here.

If you have any questions/comments, please contact the office (ucu@cardiff.ac.uk), or our Environmental Officer, Paul Rock (Rock@cardiff.ac.uk).

 

6. UCU HE Special Sector Conference on HE Disputes 

The UCU Higher Education Committee has resolved that a HE special sector conference will take place online on Thursday 9 September, on the topic of HE dispute(s), including New JNCHES, USS, TPS, and any possible links between them.

You can read more details in the meeting circular here.

We are entitled to a total of four branch delegates and two motions, that need to be voted at a branch’s General Meeting. The deadline for motions is 12 noon on 23 August; for delegate registration, 5:00pm, Friday 3 September.

If you would like to join the conference or submit a motion, please contact the office as soon as possible so that we can include these in the agenda of an Emergency General Meeting before the 23th August.

 

7. Discrimination in UK universities 

A UCU report on the levels of LGBT discrimination in UK universities, particularly serious when intercalated with racial discrimination, with 100% of black LGBT respondents reporting either personal discriminatory experiences or having witnessed derogatory language towards others, and a recent report by researchers in Dundee University based on data collected in March 2021, showing that 50% of HE staff report high levels of anxiety and 47% report poor mental health, with poorer levels correlated to lack of control over their work and the sense of not feeling valued, bring to light that trade unions have an important role to play in fighting for better workplaces for all.

You can see here the motions voted at the UCU national congress in May-June this year. These include motions to defend our pensions, fight casualisation, resist cuts and fight for better pay, against discrimination in promotion, for academic freedom, on building up the national workload campaign, on the covid-19 impacts on black members, to decolonise curricula and support Black Lives Matter campaigns, to combat ableism, to promote equality of genders and fight gender-based violence, to promote trans equality, to defend the rights of LGBT members, to defend asylum seekers and fight the hostile environment policies, to defend the arts from government attacks, to promote environmental sustainability and fight climate change, against nuclear armament, on the right to protest, on the definition of anti-Semitism, on international solidarity, and others.

These illustrate the multitude and diversity of issues that a big union like UCU represents and the reach and impact it can have in society. In the words of UCU president, Vicky Blake, during the congress: “It is our collective responsibility to build the union, and we must always be vigilant not to fall into the dive-and-rule tactics of employers because our unity is our strength and when we are united, we are a force to be reckoned with.”

Solidarity & Wider Campaigns:

1. Victory for other UCU branches! 

Across other branches, there are good news from Open University UCU, which have agreed a life-changing deal with the university to ensure improved pay and job security for more than 4,000 associate lecturers who will be moved onto new permanent contracts; from New City College UCU whose threat of industrial action over a restructure of supported learning has led to the employer confirming there will be no compulsory redundancies; and from UCU and Unison at Newcastle College Group which managed to negotiate a pay increase to their seven branches. Unison also recently won a victory in court for all the trade union movement, by winning a case which resulted in the amendment of the Trade Union Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 making it unlawful for employers to discipline or make life difficult to staff who were involved in strike action, correcting a grave loophole in UK law. There are also good news from Unite, whose Go North West drivers in Manchester celebrated a historic victory after defeating attempts to “fire and rehire” them after 80 days of strike action in May.
2.  HE Restructuring Exercises & Prison Education  

Department of Archaeology – Sheffield University

Sheffield UCU held an Emergency General Meeting to discuss responses to the decision by Sheffield University to close their reputable Department of Archaeology. Our office sent Sheffield UCU the solidarity message below from our colleagues in the Cardiff School of History, Archaeology and Religion:

“We, as UCI representing archaeologists and conservators at Cardiff University, condemn the treatment of staff and students at The University of Sheffield department of archaeology. It is clear that the process of reviewing the future of the archaeology department was neither transparent nor impartial and was entirely lacking in empathy, compassion and courtesy. The University Executive Board have made a devastating decision to close a world leading department with no regard for the livelihoods of staff, the education of students or their obligations to local, national and international communities. This is a shameful, ill-conceived and reckless decision, and we stand in solidarity with colleagues in Sheffield in fighting this decision.”

University College Birmingham 

University College Birmingham management are conducting a restructuring exercise. Management argues this is not a cost cutting exercise but 73 senior lecturing staff have been told they are at risk of redundancy and asked to re-apply for 42 new senior lecturer roles. Please sign & share this petition (https://speakout.web.ucu.org.uk/university-college-birmingham-oppose-the-restructure/) with all of your contacts, in support of Midlands members at University College Birmingham who are facing a brutal attack on jobs.

Prison Education 

The Novus UCU prison education dispute over health and safety is also still ongoing. Around 600 educators in 49 prisons took four days of action in May and June over health and safety concerns. Members this week voted overwhelmingly to take further strike action. Our branch sent a message of solidarity to Novus UCU. Please send messages of support via Twitter @ucuprisoned and consider donating to either the national fighting fund (https://www.ucu.org.uk/fightingfund), reference NOVUS, or the local strike fund: sort code 60-83-01 and account number: 20240811.

You can read here news on other HE disputes across the UK and how to support them. 
3. Hazards Campaign – Survey on Hybrid Working 

The national Hazards Campaign, supported by UCU, are carrying out a survey on Hybrid working. Here is the link to the survey.

Please circulate and complete, if possible,
4. NHS Pay Rise 

Matthew Tovey, a Welsh nurse started a petition for a 15% NHS pay rise that has been signed by more than three-quarters of a million people. The petition, called Claps Don’t Pay the Bills, will be officially delivered to Downing St on Tuesday 20th July at 4 pm. You can add your name here.

There will be an assembly and rally from 2.30 pm at Old Palace Yard. You can check the Facebook Event page for more information.

Zarah Sultana (Labour MP) will raise the issue to Parliament at 7pm. Several MPs have stated they will come out and support the rally.

On Saturday 3rd July, marking the 73rd anniversary of the founding of our NHS, protests were organized all over the country in defence of keeping the NHS public and demanding better working conditions for staff. Our officers Lucy Riglin, Renata Medeiros, and Phil Parkes, represented the branch in the Cardiff protest.

5. Victory in the Fight of the Hostile Environment 

We are very pleased to report that Osime Brown, a young boy with autism and learning difficulties, will be allowed to remain with his family following a Home Office decision to withdraw the deportation order. Osime had served a prison sentence under the disputed joint enterprise policy and was due to be deported to Jamaica but a campaign by Black and Disabled Peoples Organisations supported by UCU through the massive effort of its black and disabled members, has succeeded in ensuring Osime will now remain at home in Dudley with his mother.

If you are interested in wider campaigns in support of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, you can check the Anti-Raids Network or the No Evictions Network.
6. Defend the arts: say no to cuts to creative and performing arts 

The government is proposing big cuts to creative and performing arts courses at English universities. Please sign this petition backed by UCU, Equity UK, BECTU, Writers Guild of Great Britain, Musicians’ Union, Unison and Unite and tell Boris Johnson that the arts should be for everyone.
7. Solidarity with Palestine 

At a General Meeting in June our branch voted in support of a motion related to the ongoing situation in Palestine (link to minutes from EGM). Those supporting the motion may wish to sign up to the British Committee for Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) here and/or to sign the Academic Commitment to Palestine.

Events:

1.  UCU H&S focused Breakfast Briefing Webinar, 28 July 9-9.30 am 

You are invited to register for the next UCU H&S focused Breakfast briefing webinar

Theme: ‘Asbestos: An increasing H&S concern’ 

Date: Wednesday 28th July 2021 

Time: 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

These breakfast briefing webinars are designed to equip reps and ordinary members with the knowledge they need to challenge the employer with confidence. Our Health and Safety officer and Training officer will be considering asbestos as an increasing issue within our institutions and workplaces. We will discuss how reps can begin to hold employers to account and ensure the workplace is not a threat to members and others health and safety. Should you have any specific questions around this topic please do ask them on the registration form.

To register please complete this short form.

If you’ve missed previous sessions, you can see a list of topics and past breakfast briefing recordings here.

 

2. Transforming UCU – Development Programme, September/December 2021 

The application process for Cohort 11 of the ever-popular Transforming UCU programme is still open. Transforming UCU isn’t like a normal trade union course. Participants take part in a comprehensive package of training, discussion and support delivered across two residential modules. Feedback from those taking part has been extremely positive.

The programme is arranged over two modules:

Module 1: UCU, strategic choice, building power, and leadership in a changing world;

Module 2: Building collective identity, organising and learning from others, taking control at the workplace

Sessions will be held in September and December and led by leading academics and practitioners. Sharing ideas, experience, and different perspectives is a key element of the programme. It is important that UCU remains a strong union with the ability to make independent decisions, based on strategic choices that consider carefully the environment we operate within. This programme will help participants consider the position of UCU, how to build power for effective bargaining, and different types of leadership within a trade union setting.

Please apply online as soon as possible as places are extremely limited. The absolute deadline is Friday 13 August 2021

 

3. UCU LGBT+ research conference, November 2021 

UCU LGBT+ research conference will be held online over 3 days during the first week of November 2021. This notice announces the opening of the call for papers. For further information and to submit a proposal please click here.

Leave Entitlement

We are writing to you in relation to complaints received by UCU Cardiff regarding leave entitlement.

A number of members have reported that they are not able to have a proper break, and/or enjoy all their annual leave this year.

All workers are entitled to take leave by law. Therefore, the University should be encouraging all of us to enjoy all our leave.

We had discussed this with the University management, and they had confirmed that there is no guidance issued by the University restricting leave in any way whatsoever.

UCU Cardiff’s position is that all members of staff should be able to take all their leave this year.

We also consider the possibility that, only upon agreement with the member of staff, it may be acceptable for some members to have their leave (more specifically, up to 4 weeks of leave) carried over to next year, if their entitlement cannot be taken this year as a result of COVID-19. The latter would be only an exceptional situation, and the University management have confirmed that they could make exceptions on an individual basis. In the current situation, as for University’s policy, 10 days would be carried over for all staff if they cannot take all their leave.

If you have had restrictions imposed on you regarding leave, or for any other reason you are not able to take all your leave this year, we encourage you to come forward and contact us directly, if you would like us to discuss this with the University, in order to find a solution that it’s satisfactory to you. We had been in communication with the University management, who are willing to discuss anonymized cases. They have made it clear that they are willing to address particular cases.

If you would like us bringing your case anonymously to the University management, please let us know by contacting your dep rep, or UCU’s local office, or simply by replying to this email. Of course, you can always request a caseworker by emailing the office (ucu@cardiff.ac.uk).

With best wishes
Cardiff UCU executive

PS. Why up to four weeks of leave carried over? This is government policy

Update From Cardiff UCU General Meeting – We Need Your Views On The UUS Pensions And Pay Disputes

Great job from everyone who joined the last general members’ meeting of the academic year yesterday and contributed to the discussions.

At the meeting we discussed:

  • potential upcoming USS pensions and pay disputes,
  • our strategy to address excessive workloads,
  • some recent anti-casualisation victories, and
  • the proposed changes associated with Recast Transforming Services and Better Ways of Working.

You can see the slides presented by our member and pensions expert, Woon Wong, on USS pensions here, and the slides presented by our Exec members Nicky Priaulx and Martin Weinel on workload here. Chris Graves’ presentation on Recast Transforming Services and Better Ways of Working is here.

As part of the discussion on Pensions and Pay, UCU head office has asked us to collect views from members on potential industrial action. Please complete this very short survey so that your thoughts can contribute to the union’s strategy.

Members voted overwhelmingly (95%) in support of the proposed strategy for the workload campaign, which includes exploring the submission of a collective grievance to university management regarding the workload crisis and its consequences for staff.

If you are interested in the anti-casualisation workgroup updates, there is a dedicated Anti-casualisation meeting on Tuesday 29th June at 10 am. Everyone is welcome and the link to the meeting is: https://cardiff.zoom.us/j/87682683237?pwd=Rm12U3Zyd0o3NmVHR3dHcmNNcHU2QT09

All the updates and news from the branch are sent to members in our branch’s newsletter/bulletin so we urge members to read these in order to be up-to-date with the branch’s activities – you can search for “Cardiff UCU News” or “Cardiff UCU Bulletin”; there will be one in your inbox next week. We were initially sending the bulletin every week but decided to start sending it less frequently and intersperse it with occasional specific e-mails like this one.  We hope this works well for you but please let us know if you have any ideas or preference regarding how we communicate with you.

If you have any questions or any issues we would like to discuss with the branch, please contact our office (ucu@cardiff.ac.uk).

In solidarity,

Cardiff UCU Branch Committee

Newsletter 10/06/2020

Branch News & Updates

1. No Unsafe Return – Cardiff University Dispute 

We have now received permission from head office to ballot our members for industrial action over our request that management commits to give workers a choice whether to work face-to-face on campus. We hope that university management makes this commitment for the next academic year or that such commitment is no longer necessary if the pandemic no longer poses a significant public health risk. However, as agreed at our emergency General Meeting last month, if necessary we will run the ballot in September to protect members who already suffered severe anxiety during this academic year and should not have to go through that again.

You can read about our dispute in the national UCU current campaigns webpage and learn how you can support other campaigns across the UK.
2. USS Pensions Campaign & Resources 

Both UCU and UUK agree (as do their actuaries) that the latest valuation of the USS pension scheme is deeply flawed.  However, under the deeply flawed assessment, there is an apparent deficit that USS wishes to fill.  UUK has proposed a series of changes to your pension scheme to address this “phantom deficit” (see link below for a video on this) that would seriously degrade your pension in the future (the Cardiff University response to the proposal was outlined in the latest Blas).  A more detailed presentation on the UUK proposed cuts to your pension is available here.

UCU head office has created a modelling tool that would show how much less per year your pension might be as a result of these proposed changes, you can access the modeller here.

If you are concerned by the potential loss of retirement income and savings, whether you are a union member or not, please fill out this short survey to indicate your attitude towards the proposed changes. It is up to you and your colleagues together to defend your pension and the more engagement there is, the more likely our interests will be properly considered.

Make sure to share this information with your colleagues and encourage them to complete the survey. It affects all staff, and not just UCU members, since UCU negotiates for your USS pension as a representative of all employees.  UCU wants to hear all voices on this subject regardless of your union membership so that it can represent all participants in the USS pension scheme.

Phantom deficit – Quick and easy explanation of the phantom deficit by an expert Cardiff member of staff (Dr, Woon Wong, Reader in Financial Economics, Cardiff Business School) who has been involved in an extensive and in-depth critical analysis of the USS valuation.
3. Joint Consultative and Negotiating Forum (JCNF) Update 

The JCNF meets every 3 months and it’s the main forum of consultation and negotiation between the three recognized campus unions, Unison, Unite and UCU, and the University Executive Board (UEB). The last JCNF meeting was on Tuesday (8th June). UCU members were represented by our branch president Lucy Riglin, our officers Chris Graves and Colin Berry, and our co-vice-president Renata Medeiros for the item on casualisation only.

We presented the following items and papers:

We were pleased that university management agreed to review the use of “relevant factors” on open-ended contracts and we will update members of the outcomes of these in more detail at the next General Meeting on June 16, 1:10 pm – 2:10 pm via Teams.

We also raised concerns regarding proposed changes to University Research Institutes from January 2022, which put members’ jobs at risk. UCU has serious concerns about the lack of meaningful consultation regarding these changes and the resulting redundancies. If you are affected by this, you can contact our office (ucu@cardiff.ac.uk) to get support and help us challenge these changes.

We raised further concerns regarding meaningful consultation on Recast Transforming Services and Better Ways of Working (BWoW), which are the latest proposals from university management to changes and restructures aiming to reduce expenditure on staff. To date there have been no specific union consultation meetings on what is proposed and how changes should best be implemented. We were assured that an avenue for meaningful consultation with the unions would be established soon.
4. Cardiff University Test & Trace – request for more transparency 

We are still awaiting a reply from the University Executive Board (UEB) to the letter we sent on the 6th May requesting more transparency regarding the University’s Covid-19 Test & Trace system. You can read our letter here and we will keep members informed when hear from UEB.

Solidarity & Wider Campaigns

1.  Solidary with the Department of Archaeology of the University of Sheffield 

At the end of May, plans to axe the archaeology department at the University of Sheffield emerged and resonated strongly with our own members from SHARE who are facing worrying managerial procedures. The University Executive Board at the University of Sheffield has recommended that the Department of Archaeology be closed, despite an international outcry over the prospect that has been covered by the BBC, the Guardian and many local news organisations.

We stand in solidarity with the Archaeology department at the University of Sheffield and with all the colleagues affected by this. Sheffield UCU and the other campus unions are determined to resist the closure plans, which would affect academic, technical and professional services staff in the department. To support the campaign against closure:

2. Solidary with UCU members at Leicester and Liverpool universities 

UCU members at Leicester and Liverpool universities are on strike against compulsory redundancies this week. We already sent messages of support from our branch.

Leicester UCU began three consecutive days of strike action today, and Liverpool UCU are in the middle of their third week of continuous strikes. Both branches are due to complete their current stage of industrial action this Friday.

Both branches have therefore agreed to organise a Joint Solidarity Strike Rally at 12pm this Friday 11th June – to which all UCU members are invited.

Please share the details of this important event with colleagues and ensure your branch is well represented at the rally. It is vital to demonstrate that whenever, wherever, and however UCU members fight back, they do not fight alone.

You can also urge your MP to sign Early Day Motion against university redundancies and urging the Government to end the marketisation of higher education.

 

3. Anti-racist Wales 

Welsh Government is consulting around a Race Equality Action Plan for an anti-racist Wales and the UCU regional office is requesting members’ input to respond to the consultation. If you would like to contribute, please contact Jamie insole – UCU Policy Officer, at jinsole@ucu.org.uk.

Jamie prepared a narrative document summarizing interviews he had with members to date. He is particularly interested in speaking to black members so that their priorities inform governments process.

The deadline for the consultation is the 17th June and Jamie is asking for people to contact preferably before the 11th June.

 

Events:

1. Cardiff UCU – General Meeting, 23 June 1.10-2.10 pm 

Our branch’s next General Meeting is on 23rd June via Teams. We will send an agenda and link closer to the date.

General Meetings are the main channel for the executive committee to consult with members and for the branch to make decisions as a collective.  These meetings are always scheduled at lunchtime on a Wednesday to ensure no teaching clashes for staff with teaching responsibilities. However, we are aware that other members, including those who are part-time, might be disadvantaged. While there are no perfect solutions, we welcome any suggestions to make these meetings more open and inclusive.

We are in the process of updating our website so that members can find useful information more easily and we will be looking into setting up calendar invites to the General Meetings in advance.

You are the union and it is important that you participate in the branch activities so that the branch can best represent you and prioritise the things that you and your colleagues care most about.

 

2. Clean Air Day Meeting, 17 June 6-7.30 pm 

On June 17th UCU Hazards Campaign have organised a zoom meeting for Clean Air Day.  6-7.30pm 

With a discussion led by Prof Andrew Watterson Stirling University, Hilda Palmer Hazards Campaign/TUCAN and John James UCU member and TUEducation in Wales about initiatives being led by trade unions and Hazards Campaigners in Scotland, Wales and England to improve Air Quality.

 

3.   People’s Assembly National Demonstration – After COVID, Demand a New Normal 

People’s Assembly is organizing a national demonstration in London on the 26th June 2021. The key demands of the demonstration are:

  • Renationalise key industries
  • Decent housing for all
  • No Tory crony corruption
  • Properly funded, fully publicly-owned NHS
  • Keep the market out of education
  • A green new deal
  • Safe workplaces, save jobs
  • End fire and rehire
  • Fully funded social care
  • Kill the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

If you would like to arrange transport from Cardiff, please contact: cardiffpeoplesassembly@gmail.com

Cardiff UCU Statement in Solidarity with the Palestinian People

Cardiff UCU condemns the violent attacks on Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and within Israel by the Israeli armed forces. We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people who, since at least 1948, have resisted warfare, violent displacements, discriminatory laws/policies, blockades, detentions, land annexations and what has been described as ethnic cleansing (e.g. Pappé, 2006). What is going on today is only the most recent juncture in an ongoing process of occupation and apartheid (B’tselem, 2021) that dehumanises the Palestinian people. This has been recognised most recently by Human Rights Watch and the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem.

We mourn all loss of life and condemn all forms of racism including antisemitism, we are in solidarity with all people around the world who suffered attacks as a result of this situation and who have endured discrimination for generations, and we are in solidarity with all ordinary people/workers, Palestinian and Israeli, who have been oppressed by the Israeli state. We strongly refuse the ‘two-sides’ narrative that conceals the inequalities between the Israeli state – which receives USD $3.8 billion in military aid annually from the United States and exerts sovereign control over Israel and all the Occupied Palestinian Territories — and a Palestinian population resisting occupation, oppression and the daily violation of human rights. We recognise Palestinians’ right to liberation, to self-determination, to remain in their residence, and to return home.

We therefore condemn the threat to forcibly and illegally evict Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, the attack on the Al Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan and the violent repression of Palestinian protests. We also condemn the bombing of the besieged Gaza strip, which has killed over 200 people and injured over 1000.

The attacks have, in the context of the global pandemic, damaged important infrastructure, affecting the provision of water, sanitation, healthcare, education, journalism and housing, as well being disproportionate and not taking the necessary precautions to protect civilians.  Collectively as well as individually such acts amount to serious and egregious breaches of international law and may amount to crimes against humanity or war crimes.

We recognise that we have colleagues and students who are personally affected by what is going on at this time and offer them our solidarity and support.  We take seriously calls from students to decolonise our university and see solidarity with the Palestinian cause as part of this process, and indeed part of our role as universities to work against all forms of racism, colonialism and injustice globally.

More specifically we call on the university to make a public statement of support and solidarity with Palestine and call on the Israeli state to stop the violence. We also call on the university to support the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) of the Israeli state for as long as it continues with its system of apartheid.

The UK is very much implicated in this colonial project through its involvement in the early 20th century Sykes-Picot Agreement, Balfour Declaration, British mandate, and its arms sales to Israel. We call on the Welsh and UK government to apply pressure on Israel to immediately end its air strikes and impose a two-way arms embargo with Israel and to lobby the Israeli state to end its siege of Gaza and dismantle the Apartheid wall that it has constructed both in Gaza and in the West Bank. We call on these governments to ensure that no Welsh and UK firms/institutions contribute to the apartheid regime.

Cardiff

26.5.21

Solidarity and Wider Campaigns:

1. Solidarity with Palestine
Last week the Israeli court ordered the eviction of Palestinian families from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah. This, together with Israel’s annual celebrations of its capture of East Jerusalem in 1967, resulted in large protests, including militants in Gaza firing rockets into Israel. Violence escalated quickly resulting in at least 53 Palestinians (including 14 children) and six Israelis being killed since Monday.

Israeli military organized raids on Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque, where Palestinians were praying in observance of the holy month of Ramadan. So far, Nicola Sturgeon is the only UK leader to condemn this action in a statement that reads: “Attacking a place of worship at any time is reprehensible, but attacking a mosque during Ramadan is utterly indefensible. It is also a violation of international law. Israel should heed calls to halt the violence immediately.”

UCU stands by Sturgeon’s words in solidarity with the people of Palestine.
The Cardiff Palestine Solidarity Campaign is organizing a protest on Saturday 15 May at 12pm by the Nye Bevan Statue, Queen St., Cardiff to demand an end to Israel’s grave violations of human rights and international law. Our branch’s Equality and Diversity officer, Abyd Quinn-Aziz, is among the speakers.

2. Swansea DVLA Workers Strike
DVLA workers from the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union held four days of strike earlier this month over health and safety relating to covid-19 with more strike actions planned for next week if their conditions were not met. PCS have just announced the agreement to suspend next week’s strike following progress made in talks with DVLA towards reaching an agreement. The branch thanked all the messages of solidarity and support from all areas of the country and the trade union movement.

Their inspiring online strike rally, held on the 7th May, is available here.

3. Construction Electricians Protest
Construction electricians in Unite appealed for support at their protest at the Bouygues Cardiff University construction site on Maindy Road, Cardiff, today between 7.00-8.00 am. Our branch President, Lucy Riglin, and our branch Treasurer, Phil Parkes, attended to represent the branch.

One of the companies working on the site is NG Baileys, which is trying to de-skill and drive down electricians’ wages around the country. This is part of the general campaign by employers to drive down wages through fire and rehire. In effect every new contract by NG Baileys is a fire and rehire. The management at the Bouygues site have been taking an increasingly aggressive attitude towards the sparks, so they require our solidarity to show they are not alone and are supported by all Cardiff workers.

It is up to the whole trade union movement in Cardiff to respond with support. If you can, please join future protests of fellow workers in Cardiff. We will try to keep you informed of these events, but you can also join the Wales Trade Unions Council mailing list or follow them on social media in order to be up to date with their campaigns and events. You can subscribe to their mailing list, at the bottom of their webpage here.

4. A People’s Vaccine
The US has just announced that it will support a patent waiver on Covid-19 vaccine technology. China and Russia also support the patent waiver but the European Union and the UK do not. Please find here a petition calling on the UK government to support the end of the vaccine apartheid emerging across the world.

5. Union’s Global Boycott of the University of Leicester
The University of Leicester’s management has threatened over 100 staff with compulsory redundancy. UCU have implemented the ultimate sanction of ‘greylisting’ to urge the university to stop the proposed cuts and to hold urgent talks with staff unions to resolve the current dispute.

UCU calls on all members, supporters, other unions and the international academic community to support staff at Leicester including by:

  • not applying for any advertised jobs at Leicester
  • not speaking at or organising academic or other conferences at Leicester
  • not accepting invitations to give lectures at Leicester
  • not accepting positions as visiting professors or researchers at Leicester
  • not writing for any academic journal which is edited at or produced by Leicester
  • not accepting new contracts as external examiners for taught courses at Leicester
  • refusing to collaborate on new research projects with Leicester.

Academic boycott is a weapon of last resort and has only been used a handful of times in UCU’s history but that is a measure of the level of intransigence of the employer that has left no choice.

Please support the boycott in any way you can, and in particular if you have any personal or professional link with the university. Please also encourage colleagues, professional networks and students to do the same. Tweet your support tagging @UniofLeicester @NCanagarajah and @LeicesterUCU and using #BoycottLeicester. We are fighting to prevent one of the most egregious attacks on higher education workers and it is crucial that we stand in solidarity with our colleagues.

Events (14th May 2021):

1.  Health & Safety Research Seminar – TODAY Friday May 14, 9.15am – 12.30 pm

During the pandemic many different groups of workers have been at the front line, maintaining services, keeping others safe and the economy going while confronting risks. Employee health and safety representatives have been performing risk assessments, calling for adequate PPE, communicating with workers and managements and much more. In short, they have been fulfilling a vital purpose. Training and support from individual unions has underpinned the work of health and safety reps, and helps explain their impact.

What lessons can be learned from working through Covid? What more could employers, unions and government do to improve the effectiveness of employee health and safety consultation?

This Health & Safety Research Seminar is open to anyone and will include talks from trade union and management health and safety specialists, OSH specialists and others with a practical knowledge of supporting employee health and wellbeing during the pandemic.

The program is available here and to register please use this link.

2. Building UCU Event – June 10, 4.40 pm

Join Jo Grady on 10 June at 4.40pm for the launch of new resources aimed at building our ability to bargain better to improve our members working lives. There are short introductory guides for members and activists that outline the kind of trade union we need to build and a longer handbook/code of good practice as a reference point for branch officers. Find out more by registering here.

Branch News and Updates (14th May 2021):

1. Update from Wales Congress
UCU Wales Congress was held online on the 24th April and included the contributions of UCU general secretary, Jo Grady, and UCU President, Vicky Blake. Our branch’s motion on supporting the “Free Siyanda” and other Black Lives Matter campaigns was moved and our second branch’s motion on support for Julian Assange was a draw, and was therefore referred to Wales Council for an action on the sentiment of the motion regarding free speech, but not on the details. You can see all the motions outcomes here.

At the Congress it was agreed that there will be a special meeting of Wales Council on Friday, 14th May at 4 pm to discuss the block voting by UCU Wales on motions to Wales Trade Unions Council Congress on 25/26th May. The motions to be discussed can be found here. We apologize for the short notice in informing members of these. If you have strong feelings about any of the motions, please contact Renata Medeiros (MedeirosMirraRJ@cardiff.ac.uk) or Luzia Dominguez (DominguezL@cardiff.ac.uk), who will be our branch’s delegates for this meeting, before 4 pm today.

2. USS pensions meeting
The pensions meeting held last Wednesday by our branch pensions officer Dave Atkins and Woon Wong, branch member from Cardiff Business School and national UCU joint negotiator on pensions was well attended. For those who could not attend, please see here for a summary of what was discussed:

If you want to join us to help defend your pension, then please contact ucu@cardiff.ac.uk.

3.  Covid-19 rights – information to members
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) produced guidance on taking time off for covid-19 vaccinations and for ‘post-COVID-19 syndrome’, ‘long-tail COVID’ or ‘long COVID’.
You can access the guidelines for vaccination here.
You can access the guidelines for long-covid here.

Any health condition lasting six months or longer is considered a long-term illness or chronic health condition. Any condition that has a substantial adverse effect on your daily life for more than 12 months is considered a disability and is protected by the Equality Act 2010. Many people have now been reported to suffer from long-covid for over 12 months, making it hard for employers to argue that it is not a long-term illness and in many cases the severity of the effects classify as a disability. In such cases the employer is under a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to the workplace to help accommodate the employee to continue at work. Also, if anyone with a pre-existing disability or health condition was made worse from having Covid, a review of their existing reasonable adjustments should be carried out and new reasonable adjustments introduced, if necessary.

Please get in touch with the union if you are facing issues with long’covid that are not being properly addressed by the university.

4. Political fund: right to give a withdrawal notice
Since 1913 trade unions who wished to be involved in activity that might be deemed political had to ballot their members on the establishment of a political fund. Since 1984, trade unions have to repeat the ballot every 10 years. UCU last balloted members on the retention of its political fund in March-April 2018.  Members voted to retain the fund.

Employers spend millions of pounds lobbying government and politicians in their favour and union political funds can be used to help redress that balance. UCU uses its political fund income to promote the interests of UCU members, campaigning and lobbying irrespective of party political affiliation.
However, individual members can opt in or out of making contributions to the fund. UCU members in Great Britain who joined the union on or after 1 March 2018 are notified annually of their right to withdraw from the fund.  A notice to those members was issued recently and can be found here.

5. HE negotiators: call for nominations
The HE national negotiators will be elected by the online annual sector conference: nominations are open until the 21st May. The process is by self-nomination.

UCU national negotiators participate in regular (about once every two/three months) meetings with the other trade unions, and occasional intense periods of negotiation when pay claims are under discussion.

If you wish to nominate yourself, please find details of how nominations can be made here.

Solidarity and Wider Campaigns (7th May 2021):

1. USS connections with military junta in Myanmar

A number of HE staff across the UK who are members of the USS pension scheme and are concerned about events in Myanmar, have drafted an open letter to the board urging them to act responsibly in relation to their public equity holdings that are connected to the military junta. If you are a member of USS and would like to add your name to the open letter, you can do it here.

2. Cardiff May Day Rally

For those members who were not able to join the May Day rally organized by the Trade Unions Council (TUC), you can view a video of the event here.

The event was chaired by Cardiff TUC president Katrine Williams and the speakers were: Mairead Canavan (NEU), Andrew Wilkes (Electrician – Unite), Helen Perriam (NHS), Eugene Caparros (CWU), Amarjite Singh (CWU) and Bianca Ali (Black Lives Matter).

The success of the event, despite all the Covid complications, was a testament to the resilience and militancy of the trade union movement in Cardiff, of which our branch is a part.