Monday 28th is your last chance to vote in the two active ballots:

There are only a few days left to have your say in the higher education ballots so please post your ballot paper by Monday 28 October at the very latest.

Voting now will improve the union’s bargaining position and empowers your negotiators. If we beat the 50% threshold for strike action we anticipate that the employers will seriously consider making us an offer before any action happens, because they will remember how effective last year’s strikes were. If we don’t, there is no realistic chance of us improving our lots in relation to pensions, pay, workload, casualisation, or equality. It really is that stark.

A strong turn-out in Cardiff specifically will also help the local branch in its on-going negotiations for improvements with Cardiff University. A weak one will have the opposite effect.

We as a union have democratically decided to encourage members to vote “Yes“ to strike action and ASOS in both ballots, but whatever you think about pay, pensions, job security or equality: please don’t leave it to others to speak for you. Please vote, and also remind your colleagues to vote by sharing this short video clip or by sharing this Facebook event

The New Ken Loach Film: Sorry We Missed you

To tie in with the film, Anti-Precarity Cymru and Cardiff UCU are running a creative workshop on the theme of organising and resisting casualised, zero-hours and exploitative work – join us for zine-making and other activities! This will be followed by a screening of the film, tickets for which must be purchased separately.  This event will be taking place Saturday 2 November 2-5pm, at Chapter Arts Centre, Market Rd, Canton, Cardiff CF5 1QE

The UCU’s demands in both active strike ballots:

We *know* that this info has been shared a lot, but we still have to point people in the direction of info like this.

You can find the campaign leaflet for the “Four Fights” ballot on pay, the gender pay gap, workload and casualisation here. It goes into good detail about the issues we face and the demands we’re making.

You can find the campaigning leaflet in defence of our USS pensions here.

If you’d like to hear from our national negotiators first-hand what they’re bargaining for on our behalf, and what a mandate for strike action could get us, then  watch this video, recorded at a Cardiff UCU event a couple of weeks ago.

For those of you who want to prioritize: first up is Sam Marsh (one of our pensions negotiators), talking about USS (00:00-13:00mins); then comes Robyn Orfitelli (one of our negotiators on pay, casualization, equality and workload) at 14:00-32:30mins; followed by a Q&A with both (32:30-40:11mins)).

Robyn (@rorfitelli, r.orfitelli@sheffield.ac.uk) and Sam (@sam_marsh101, S.J.Marsh@shef.ac.uk) have both kindly offered to take any questions from Cardiff members, either by email or on Twitter.

Still haven’t voted? Abstention is not an option!

A turnout under 50% of UCU members will invalidate the ballot, even if a majority of members vote in favour of action. This unusually restrictive anti-trade union law means it’s more important than ever to vote, even if you don’t support the action.

We strongly urge every member eligible to vote in the ballots to vote. Again, abstention is a direct attack on those who *do* want to have their say, so whatever you think about the issues, please vote.

Can I Afford to Go on Strike? The UCU strike funds

The UCU nationally has strike fund to help those most in need of assistance (see the recent email from Jo Grady about this), and we do at local level too. At Cardiff, we’re better prepared than ever to support striking members with a healthy solidarity fund which we’re building all the time. During the last strike UCU took extra care to support precariously employed members such as those on low incomes, PhD students, and Postdocs and we aim to do so again. We realise that hourly paid workers may have difficulty evidencing loss of pay and will take that into account.

While we hope that as many union members as possible do take part in industrial action it is also worth noting that voting “yes” now does not oblige you to strike later. If you are on the fence about this ballots please consider voting “yes” now anyway. Signalling that a high percentage of union members is willing to strike strengthens our negotiators’ position and will hopefully help us to resolve the dispute without industrial action becoming necessary.

We are currently planning a benefit gig to fund-raise for our local strike fund to be held in early December 2019. We’ve got a number of bands already willing to play for us, and when we’ve got a date and venue we’ll share the info!

Jo Grady, UCU General Secretary: Two talks in Cardiff, 22nd October

The new General Secretary of our Union will be visiting the University on 22nd October this year to talk with members about the two active ballots we face right now, as well as hold a separate session specifically about the issues faced by staff in insecure/precarious employment.

  • Defend Pensions, Pay, and Conditions: A Q&A with UCU General Secretary Jo Grady: 1-2pm, 22nd October 2019, Small Chemistry Lecture Theatre, Main Building, Park Place.

Find out about the issues behind our current struggles to defend our USS pensions, as well as the Union’s strategy in the “four fights” ballot. Bring your friends, along with an open mind and any questions. The session will be recorded and shared afterwards.

Meet with Jo and Cardiff UCU’s Anti-Casualisation Working Group to hear about the fight against gig-economy-style precarious labour in UK Universities, and find out what you can do to help.

This visit will be a cracking opportunity to chat with the Union’s new gaffer, find out her plans for UCU and the issues we face, as well as to hear about the aims behind the current strike ballots. You can read more about Jo in this recent Guardian profile.

Help Cardiff UCU Get the Vote Out!

Encouraging members to vote is currently the branch’s top priority, and we need your help. Our biggest challenge when it comes to getting over the 50% threshold for industrial action is the fact we are all so overworked (often so much that we don’t even have the time or headspace to vote).

Our experience tells us we get the best turn-out when members are reminded to vote by their own colleagues (either over the phone or face to face).

We are currently planning four mass door-knocking sessions (for about 2 hours) as follows:

  • Friday 4th October 10am (targeting Physics)
  • Monday 14th October 10:30am (targeting Healthcare)
  • Tuesday 15th October 9:30am (targeting Medicine)
  • Friday 18th October 10am (targeting Engineering)

We are also putting together teams of volunteers to run a phone bank with the aim of talking to all members with whom we haven’t been able to chat face to face.

If you can spare some time to help with phone banking (scripts and materials provided!), or door-knocking (always as part of a team of colleagues) please email ucu@cardiff.ac.uk to sign up or find out more.

Two strike Ballots this Autumn: one on USS pensions; One on casualisation, pay, inequality & workloads

As you now know, UCU’s annual congress voted to prepare for another round of strike action to defend our pensions while also launching a new national campaign to secure a fair deal from both pre- and post-92 employers on pay, workload, equality, and job security. UCU’s Higher Education Committee then decided on 28 June to run both strike ballots at the same time, rather than consecutively.

 

These ballots will run from 9 September to 30 October. Members in branches where UCU has registered a dispute over USS will receive two ballot papers – one for pay, workload, equality and job security and one for USS. Members in other and post-92 branches will receive one ballot paper.

 

New UCU General Secretary-elect Jo Grady explains it like this:

“Those of us who went on strike over USS last year were motivated by a host of factors. Many members who are not even in USS joined us on the picket lines because they wanted to express their solidarity with us and send a signal to our employers that staff deserve better, not just in their pension benefits but in other areas, too. UCU has listened to those members and decided that nobody should be left behind. By balloting simultaneously, we can press employers to reach agreements that protect all of us.”

 

The rest of this post explains the strategies, demands, and rationale for both votes as they currently stand.

Our demands for USS
For USS, our demands are simple. USS has lost its members’ trust and rejected some of the Joint Expert Panel’s most important proposals. If implemented now, those proposals would lead to a contribution rate no higher than 26%, as it was before the 2017 valuation.

We want employers to use their considerable influence over the scheme to hold USS’s managers to account. If they refuse to do so, we want them to meet the full cost of contribution increases above the rate of 26%, rather than forcing some of them on to members.

A comprehensive deal for university staff on pay, equality, workload, and job security
At the same time, we want employers to move towards a sustainable, equitable business model that puts staff first. Our demands are laid out in the campus unions’ annual claim for 2019-20. These include:

  • reducing the number of zero-hours and hourly paid positions
  • working to close the gender and ethnicity pay gaps
  • limiting unsafe, excessive workloads
  • increasing pay by 3% plus RPI.

These are *all* things on which we represent our members, but we have been faced by remarkable intransigence from the employers at national negotiating level for years. If we don’t give our negotiators the leverage they need to improve our lot there is no indication this situation will change.

 

Practical questions
Once again, employers are leaving us with no resort other than a strike, even if it stops us all from doing the valuable work we entered this sector to do. But we should remember how quickly they came to the negotiating table once last year’s USS strike started. The more members take part in the ballot, the sooner employers will make us a serious offer.

UCU has the capacity to manage two campaigns. The fact that we are balloting simultaneously does not mean that we need to take twice as much action as we did for USS. After the ballots close, we have a six-month window within which to schedule any strikes, so we can be flexible in terms of the timing and amount of action we take.

The union will support branches in getting the vote out and preparing for action. I am pleased to announce that UCU’s National Executive Committee recently approved a trial expansion of the strike fund, so that members earning less than £30,000, and/or on fractional and hourly paid contracts, will be able to apply for more days of reimbursement than they could in the past. When you decide to go on strike, your action will be properly supported.’

I will be touring branches in September and October to meet members and discuss both campaigns. I will circulate dates and locations and provide further information about the ballots in due course. Until then, please continue to contact me with any questions you have.

Anti-casualisation campaign update

The anti-casualisation working group held an open meeting on Tuesday 4th June to work on an “Anti-Casualisation Manifesto” as a base document to inform our campaign and future negotiations with the University management. This manifesto is based on the premise that secure employment is that which guarantees continuity of gainful employment (e.g. ongoing contracts with consistent work and payment). 

We’re aware, based on our own research and many examples of members seeking support through case-work, that Cardiff University uses contracts which do not fit this description in a wide variety of situations in which this would not be necessary, with dramatic and damaging consequences to staff. 

We have initiated conversations with University management about these issues and we will soon submit a claim to demand the University to engage with UCU in reviewing the use of fixed-term and atypical contracts across the University and work towards providing secure working conditions to *all* staff.       

We will be presenting results from our precarity survey and discussing our manifesto and our claim to the University at our General Meeting next Wednesday, as well as sharing more widely, and we would value the input from all Cardiff UCU members!

Cardiff UCU anti-casualisation meeting: all welcome!

The Cardiff UCU Anti-Casualisation Committee invites you to an open meeting about the long-term strategy of the group. This meeting is open to everyone who is interested in improving working conditions at Cardiff University (whether you’re a UCU member of not). The outcome of the meeting will be to create a manifesto which will guide the Cardiff UCU Anti-Casualisation Committee’s future activities and strategy. It will also be an opportunity to learn about our work so far and our plans for the future.
We will discuss the following topics

  • Professional services staff on fixed-term contracts
  • Academic staff on fixed term contracts
  • Hourly paid teaching staff
  • Postgraduate tutors and demonstrators
  • International staff on casual contracts
  • Impacts of casualization on staff on open-ended contracts

Date & venue: Tuesday 4th June 2019, 3pm-5pm, Glamorgan Building, Committee Room 1

Please feel free to just come to parts of the meeting if you can’t make the whole meeting!