1. Update on negotiations:

The three campus unions (Unite, UNISON and UCU) are pleased to announce that the projected deficit has reduced and the university are saying that they will fund the current projected deficit from reserves.  The proposed changes to terms and conditions are no longer being pursued by the university at this point in time.  As Unions our members’ collective will to push back on the proposals until there were more facts has been clearly vindicated.  Had we not done this members could have been in a worse position financially.  We will of course keep you updated as the financial situation develops.

This is the very positive result received at the last Joint Consultative and Negotiating Forum (JCNF) following our continued resistance to the University’s proposals to make staff cuts. Our negotiators were put under considerable pressure by senior management to agree to staff cuts and our strong position has paid off.

We also made progress on workloads, with management agreeing to hold a joint union partnership forum to properly address our serious workload problems. This is a positive step and our negotiators will continue to hold management to their commitment to engage in “open and honest” discussions.

Our negotiators have very firmly and consistently communicated our members’ health and safety concerns to UEB but these have not been resolved. These are more fully addressed in this Health, Safety and Wellbeing document, but our key concerns remain:

  • that meaningful consultation, a legal obligation of our employer, has not taken place across the board and we cannot give our members assurances about the safety of the workplace.
  • that staff will be forced to work on campus without enough consideration of their personal circumstances.
  • that the concerns of those whose health and wellbeing is at risk as a result of working from home have not been properly addressed.
  • that wellbeing issues emerging as a result of increasing workloads have not been addressed.

Return to campus – Risk Assessments and how to raise concerns:

Cardiff University as our employer owes us a duty of care. To challenge them when they are failing to take the necessary steps to protect our health and safety, we need to collect evidence. This is a precursor to taking any form of legal action. We also need to comply with the University’s own procedures. Should legal action follow, the legal authorities will expect individuals to have fully exhausted these procedures.

On that basis should you be asked to return to work, your employer will be required to perform a risk assessment. However, their assessment of the circumstances may differ from yours. So the first step is to perform your own assessment of your working environment. If your assessment differs from the employers in that you have concerns regarding your health and safety, you should bring it to the attention of the appropriate person. In most cases this will be your line manager, but there may be instances where management have appointed a safety officer.

It is helpful if you use the forms provided by the University.  The University also requires you to complete the All Wales Risk Assessment. Arbitration bodies will look kindly if you have used the employer’s procedures.  It shows you are willing to support the employer, by following their guidance.   It also focuses the matter on the dispute in hand, rather than obfuscating procedural matters.

You can find relevant forms here.

  • HSE Health and Safety Poster (which should be displayed in a prominent visible place)
  • Risk Assessment forms
  • Workplace Inspection forms


Your line manager may have already completed a workplace inspection form.  There is usually a nominated person, within an office, to complete this for efficiency.  It would be quite acceptable to ask if this has been done, and could you have sight of the document to ascertain if your concerns have been highlighted, and what priority has been assigned to them.  If you are not given sight of the document, do not assume it has been done, it probably hasn’t been done well, if at all.  Your line manager is busy “spinning plates” too.

If you have to email your line manager, please use the following wording.  If we all use the same or similar wording then this reduces the risk of individuals being isolated.  Senior management will identify it as a collective action and will wish to identify the organisers, which is the union, and that is where they will focus their efforts.
Proposed wording: 

‘I am very concerned about the suggestion that I return to on-site work activities without knowing all suitable and sufficient risk management controls are in place making it safe to return. My union, UCU, will be advising me of the outcome of collective consultations over any proposed risk management strategy Cardiff University may have. I therefore request that this consultation takes place with UCU prior to any consultation with me individually

If, despite my concerns, you insist I return to work please find a Risk Assessment/Workplace Inspection Form, highlighting my concerns and suggestions on actions required to enable me to conduct my work without significant risks to my Health and Safety.

I would appreciate a response prior to my return to campus, so that I can take responsibility and appropriate steps for my own safety as required’

Negotiations Update:

Cardiff UCU negotiators met with University management on Monday 13th July, primarily to discuss plans to re-open University buildings.

University management are legally required to engage in meaningful consultations with the campus unions about this.

Negotiators have been asserting the need for management to meaningfully engage with us on building risk assessments, including the opportunity for engagement of our Health and Safety Reps.

We do not feel that this obligation has currently been met.

Survey Results: Covid-19 Working Lives

Cardiff UCU surveyed members on their experiences of working during the first two months of the Covid-19 “lockdown”.

We received over 200 responses from Cardiff UCU members. Thank you to all the Cardiff UCU members who completed the survey!

Our report on the findings is available here.

In this report, we focus on the impact of lockdown on our working lives, and specifically covering:

  • Workloads and working practices
  • Wellbeing, health and safety
  • Parenting and caring responsibilities

Cardiff UCU Executive Committee will use the findings of the survey to inform our approach to negotiations with University management.

We hope to report on our members’ purchasing of equipment, and their views on the management and Cardiff UCU responses to the crisis, at a later stage.

Thank you to our fantastic team of volunteers who designed and analysed the survey and wrote the report!

Cardiff UCU Covid-19 Working Lives Survey – Report of Findings (July 2020)

Summary of Results: 

  • Work has become more challenging for 75% of members surveyed, with workload reportedly increasing for the majority (46%), and 43% of members reporting their workload was not manageable. Of those whose workload has increased, the majority (61%) report an increase of between 1 and 10 hours per week.
  • 51% of members report they cannot do their job without working unreasonable hours and are unable to maintain an acceptable work-life balance.
  • 48% of members were not satisfied with their wellbeing, health and safety at work during the first two months of lockdown.
  • Worsened mental health is a challenge for a majority (53%) of members, and is more of a challenge than physical health.
  • The biggest single challenge for members is digital/online/remote working (23%).
  • Of those members with parenting (42%) or caring (13%) responsibilities, working whilst parenting increased their work, stress and feelings of guilt. Those with small children (pre-school and primary school) seem to be in the majority of whose work has been the most negatively affected by the lockdown.
  • Members who have more than one young child, those whose children have additional needs and those who have parenting responsibilities as well as other caring responsibilities, and single parents or those whose partner is a front-line worker (e.g. NHS) seem to be suffering the most.

Please find below a download link containing the full report:
Cardiff UCU Covid-19 Working Lives Survey – Report of Findings (July 2020)

Defending casual workers:

Cardiff UCU elected officers, activists and branch members are working, often behind the scenes and with limited resources, to defend our members against attacks on our rights and working conditions.

Cardiff UCU is very concerned that the University is failing to renew so many fixed-term staff positions.

The scale of cost savings required is yet to be properly evidenced or determined, and we continue to argue that cuts in staff costs should be the last resort.

If you are a staff member on a permanent contract and would like to help us resist cuts to casual workers, or a casual worker whose contract or job is under threat, join our Cardiff UCU Anti-Casualisation working group by simply replying to this message.

Our Cardiff UCU negotiators are meeting with University management today and we will update you on the progress of negotiations next week.

National UCU Activists Meeting:

National UCU Activists Meeting 10.00-11.30am, Saturday 4th July

This Saturday, there is a National UCU Activists Meeting. The following message is written in solidarity by Roddy Slorach (Imperial UCU).

The aim of the meeting is to help provide activists with the tools and resources we need to build effective resistance to the escalating attacks we face across all areas of post-16 education.

AGENDA (all timings approximate)

10.00 – 10.10 Introductions / welcome by Vicky Blake (UCU President)

10.10 – 10.20 Updates from branches with upcoming industrial action ballots

10.20 – 10.50 Breakout sessions

10.50 – 11.05 Speakers from Tower Hamlets Unison strike / #CoronaContract campaign / National Education Union

11.05 – 11.30 Closing plenary and action points

Discussion will focus on questions such as:

·       How can we use health and safety laws to defend working conditions?

·       How best to respond when an employer announces job cuts?

·       How can we have effective physical protests?

·       How to build a GTVO campaign during lockdown?

·       How can we build solidarity with branches on strike?


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email explaining how to join the meeting.

 The statement endorsed at last Thursday’s rally calls on the UCU’s national leadership to organise an emergency online all-members meeting immediately. If you haven’t already done so, please do sign and share the statement as widely as possible.

This event is open to members of all trade unions in post-16 education, so feel free to share this invite with other activists. We look forward to seeing you at the meeting on Saturday.

Response to the VC’s email

In his email sent on the 4th of June at 13:40, Vice-Chancellor Riordan wrote that management was talking to the campus unions ‘about voluntary reductions in salary or a collective agreement to reduce salary levels on a temporary basis’. He also hinted at even more unpalatable alternatives, likely compulsory redundancies.

We would like to reassure members that we have not agreed to any salary reductions.

The Cardiff UCU executive committee – along with the other campus unions Unite and Unison – received the university’s written proposals to save money two days ago (3rd of June) when we were sent the papers for the next Joint Consultative and Negotiating Forum (JCNF), which is due to meet on Wednesday 10th of June. The paper outlines the proposals mentioned by the VC in his email. They are very unpalatable, and we do not deem these plans acceptable.

Your branch negotiators have been attending weekly consultative meeting between management and the campus unions to discuss working conditions during the crisis. Within these meetings management have made references to the University’s dire financial situation and asked us to present ideas to address the situation. We requested detailed financial information and specific meetings to discuss this: two meetings have been held (22/05 and 29/05), where the university presented its financial projections for the 2021/22 academic year.

We are extremely concerned by management’s proposals. We are pushing for every possible avenue to be explored – including the reduction of non-staffing costs and the use of reserves – before contemplating reductions in pay or compulsory redundancies. The executive committee of the branch meets for an emergency meeting on the 5th of June to discuss the situation further.

We appreciate that the VC’s email will have caused distress and we would like to reiterate that we have not agreed to any salary reductions. As always, please contact the branch office or your local rep if you would like to feedback to us.

Management Refuse to Compensate Staff for Homeworking Costs

Our Cardiff UCU negotiators urged the University Executive Board (UEB) to agree to compensate staff for additional costs – electricity, heating, broadband – associated with working from home.

According to HMRC guidelines employers could reimburse staff £6 per week, and such payments would be non-taxable.

However, Cardiff University management have declined to show this gesture of good will, and instead have pointed out that staff can instead reclaim such costs from their tax bill. Unfortunately, this approach means that our most vulnerable members, i.e. those earning below the tax threshold, will not be able to claim any compensation.

We are also disappointed with management’s refusal to provide any assistance or guidance to staff on how to claim these tax benefits. We refer members to Martin Lewis’ blog for more information on how to proceed with claiming costs from HMRC