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

Update on Cardiff UCU Negotiations with Management (11 June 2020)

Yesterday, Cardiff UCU engaged in negotiations with senior University management on University finances. Negotiations are ongoing and the campus Unions (UCU, Unison, Unite) will meet again with management next week. UCU continues to defend our members – putting jobs first, resisting staff cuts, and protecting casual workers. UCU is working well and closely with the other campus unions.

Coronavirus Update:

We know from the UCU members who have been in contact with us so far that they are really struggling – not only with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact on us all, but also with the consequences of Cardiff University’s arguably late-in-the-day decision to immediately ‘pivot’ staff and students to remote, online, home working. The members who have been in touch with us have reported how challenging and in some cases intolerable their working lives have now become, given the current crisis and our senior management response to it.

You will hopefully have read our previous members’ newsletter, which included two letters sent from Cardiff UCU to our VC. We have since received the attached reply from Colin Riordan. We have met twice with senior University management to discuss some of the issues raised in our letters, and we have a further meeting to demand an amnesty on strike deductions this Friday. A petition has been launched to demand this amnesty

Please can you be in touch with the UCU members in your School, if you have not done so already, asking about their concerns, and encouraging them to sign the petition? We are particularly keen to discover examples of good and bad practice that are emerging at School level during this crisis period. For example, some Schools have cancelled PDRs, whereas others have not. Please let us know so that we are aware of the main issues to address with management.

Our AGM, which was due to take place on 18th March 2020, is being rescheduled and will likely take place as an online meeting. We will let you know the date as soon as this can be arranged.

Please let us know what you need and if there is anything we can help you with during this extremely challenging time.