Response to UEB offer regarding marking boycott

The branch executive sent the following message to the Vice-Chancellor and other University representatives on the 20th May.

Dear Vice Chancellor,

We are happy to report that our members voted overall favourably towards standing down the marking boycott.

However, only 35% of our members voted in favour of accepting the UEB proposal that requires cancelling all forms of ASOS. The majority of our members were mainly concerned about not having had an opportunity to read the USS statement you are prepared to release.

Taking your commitment to release a meaningful statement in good faith, we should be able to agree such a statement early next week with you and call off all ASOS as soon as the statement is released. This will cause minimal impact on students and is guaranteed not to threaten graduation.

We hope you can appreciate that there are many aspects of your proposal that we are accepting in good faith and in the spirit of trust and we hope that UEB can show similar trust in UCU.

We are very pleased to have reached this outcome in such a short window and to have collectively avoided what would have been a very difficult situation for everyone involved.  We are also glad to see this as a good example of what can be achieved when trade unions and management work together for the collective good of the institution.

We will now be instructing our members to not go ahead with the marking boycott.

As mentioned before, we are also keen to be able to stand down ASOS altogether early next week. With this in mind, we suggest a meeting with yourself on one of the following dates in order to agree a joint statement on USS. We will also be inviting members of the Technical Group to this meeting

Monday 23rd May 14-15hrs
Tuesday 24th May 13-15hrs
Wednesday 25th May 12-15hrs

Please let us know by the end of business today which of these times are suitable for you.

Yours sincerely,

Lucy Riglin
Renata Mirra
Marc Buehner 

Letter to the VC from the Cardiff University USS Actuarial Valuation Technical Group

Below is a letter sent from the Cardiff University USS Actuarial Valuation Technical Group to Cardiff University. A PDF version of the letter is available.

To: Cardiff University

Cc: Cardiff UCU

Sent by email

Dear Damian, Darren and Lisa


We would like to express our thanks to you for the continuation of the Cardiff University USS Actuarial Valuation Technical Group (henceforth the “Technical Group”). In the meetings leading up to the 2020 valuation, we provided our personal view on what we considered as the best interests of USS members when matters of valuation were concerned. Since the conclusion of pricing of benefits, we understand that our role has become primarily to offer technical views on USS based on evidence of finance and economics as well as that of governance of pension schemes. It is in the interests of both Cardiff University and Cardiff UCU to meet to discuss issues on for example pension
benefits and affordability.

We hope that the Technical Group can continue to provide useful information to all USS members working at Cardiff University and to university management. To this end, we would like to publish the Group’s views on USS in the public domain. We sincerely hope that transparent information will facilitate constructive meetings between Cardiff University and Cardiff UCU.

We note that the Technical Group’s view may have been considered by Cardiff University in its response to the USS’s recent consultation on the Statement of Investment Principles. The summary of our view can be found in Appendix A.

In addition to the Statement of Investment Principles, we also would like to ask Cardiff University, potentially in conjunction with Cardiff UCU, to follow the precedent of our GW4 peers, Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College and other institutions and consider making a statement regarding USS’s 2020 valuation. A starting point for such a statement can be found in Appendix B.

As explained above, we would like to put the contents of Appendices A and B in the public domain.

Yours sincerely,

Members of Technical Group
Dave Atkins

Simon Rushton

Frank Sengpiel

Woon Wong

Appendix A: On Statement of Investment Principles

We share the concerns expressed in the Joint Letter signed by the VCs of universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial College London, the summary of which is provided below1

  • There is an undue focus on the “gap to selfsufficiency risk metric”, which appears to be driving the investment strategy
  • The level and type of leverage proposed would import significant risks into the scheme
  • The timing of any increase in LDI (inflationlinked bond purchases) is poor and out of step
    with the work to review aspects of the USS Scheme

In particular, we think the USS’s proposed increase in LDI by leverage

  1. contradicts with its own view on derisking at low interest rates
  2. goes against its repeated assurance to stakeholders that selfsufficiency is a concept
    applicable only to valuation and will not be implemented as an investment strategy
  3. contradicts with the view held by the Joint Expert Panel (JEP), Valuation Methodology
    Discussion Forum (VMDF), the UUK actuary, the UCU actuary, and the Joint Letter

Appendix B: Call on USS

We call on USS for a new valuation that is moderately prudence and evidence based. We also call on USS to carry out a review of its governance so that academics can play a more active role in its valuation including matters such as valuation assumptions, and investment and funding strategies.

We believe that the recent benefit reforms brought by 2020 valuation are unnecessary. The deficit is caused by excessive prudence and failure to consider the postvaluation experience which has witnessed the scheme asset rises to a level that is more than sufficient to prudently pay for promised pensions.

1 See

Marking Boycott 2022 – Letter to VC

The letter below was sent to the Vice-Chancellor on the 17th May 2022. There is a PDF version available too.

17th May 2022

Dear Vice-Chancellor,

We are writing ahead of the marking boycott called by UCU due to start on the 23rd May. No member of staff takes industrial action lightly and we are open to negotiating a way to prevent the boycott going ahead – an outcome that would be desirable for all involved.

While the mandate for strike and action short of a strike is national, we have the power as a local branch to stand down the marking boycott aspect of the action short of a strike, if UEB can agree to a minimum set of requirements. In this particular dispute, then, it is very much within your power to bring the marking boycott to an end (or indeed prevent it from going ahead in the first place).

Please find below our requests for the USS Pensions and Four-Fights disputes:


  • Make a public statement (with UCU Cardiff) calling for the protection of our pensions (joining institutions like Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol, KCL, Bath, Birkbeck, Glasgow & Imperial, amongst others)
  • Pay in the Deficit Recovery Contributions into members’ pensions


  • Write to UCEA to urge them to accept UCU’s national demands
  • Commit publicly to publish detailed information for ethnic, gender and disability pay gap and to work with the unions meaningfully in addressing inequality, including looking at recruitment, career development, and career progression issues and addressing the demands in our recent child-care claim during the 2022/23 academic year.
  • Commit publicly to agree with the unions a framework to address workload by June 2023
  • Commit publicly to implement contracts for PGAs, reduce the remit for the use of variable hour contracts, and improve conditions for staff in those contracts, as negotiated as part of the Teaching Delivery Governance Group.
  • Commit publicly to end the use of relevant factors in open-ended contracts and work with the unions to guarantee secure employment to research staff.
  • Offer a bonus of £250 per month to all workers during the 2022/23 academic year in compensation for the pay deflation our salaries have suffered and considering the increasing inflation.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Cardiff UCU

Cardiff UCU Branch Hardship Fund Guidance – 2022

Details of the Fund

Cardiff UCU Branch has established a local fund to help those suffering particular financial hardship due to loss of pay arising from UCU industrial action.

“Particular hardship” means that the member is low-paid (such as on a small fractional contract or hourly paid equivalent) and/or that the action disproportionately affects them (for example, a strike is on the only day(s) that they work or covers the majority of their hours).

While the loss of income through striking affects everyone, those who are already in very financially insecure situations are the worst hit, and these people will be prioritised – e.g. hourly-paid workers; postgraduates who teach/demonstrate.

The Cardiff UCU Hardship Fund is designed as a safety net for local members and is intended to augment the UCU National Hardship Fund by allowing members to claim towards loss of income for the first one or two days of action which the National Fund does not cover, or in cases where it is not applicable (deductions of less than 100% for ASOS).

Please be aware that the local fighting fund is a limited pot of money – for which we are already fundraising and will continue to fundraise throughout the action – and we cannot guarantee to reimburse you for the full amount that you have lost.

If you wish to donate to the fund you can do so by direct bank transfer, or set up a regular standing order, to:

Account Name: Cardiff UCU Fighting Fund
Sort code: 60-83-01
Account no: 20341260

Or send a cheque (payable to “Cardiff UCU Fighting Fund”) to:

Cardiff UCU
49b Park Place
CF10 3AT

The national rules are as follows in order to better protect casually employed and lower-paid members:

  • those of you earning below £30,000 will be able to claim up to £75 per day from the second day onwards;
  • those of you earning £30,000 or more will be able to claim up to £50 from the third day onwards.

Details of the national fund can be found on the national UCU strike fund page.

Cardiff UCU Hardship Fund

The Cardiff UCU hardship fund applies to the first one or two days of strike action taken by the member (i.e. your first one or two days – this might not be the first days of the action). The National UCU hardship fund will cover the remaining days.

Where the National Fund does not cover the action (e.g. <100% pay deductions), the Local Fund will aim to cover each lost day of pay as per the limits above, e.g. if the University deducts 20%, we will aim to pay £50/£75 1 day per week to members taking action.

Applications from members on all pay grades will be considered although priority will be given to:

  • those who are casually employed or on part-time contracts;
  • those on lower grades (Grade 6 or lower)

If you are a PGR who teaches, make sure that you have upgraded from “student” to “standard free” membership. It only takes a minute, and is still FREE while you’re studying. You can update your membership online.

Members who continue to suffer disproportionate hardship are eligible to submit further applications to the Cardiff UCU Hardship Fund although we reserve the right to seek information on support received from the National Fighting Fund and we may ask you for additional evidence of hardship.


Where staff are paid on a regular monthly basis and the strike pay is indicated as a loss on the pay slip, this will be the evidence required.

Where staff are paid on an hourly basis and claims are made through monthly time sheets submitted to cover the hours worked, the time sheets that have been submitted during the boycott / strike period, a payslip for the period and a timetable or email showing that they were scheduled to teach / mark will be the evidence required.

If you have difficulties evidencing action or would like advice on making a claim for additional funds please contact to speak to a Cardiff UCU Branch Officer.

Please note that PhD funding is not affected by your decision to take action.

How to Apply to the Cardiff UCU Hardship Fund

  1. Ensure you read and familiarise yourself with the eligibility requirements and terms and conditions set out below.
  2. Download the application form for the Cardiff UCU Hardship Fund.
  3. Send the completed application form with supporting pay slips or timesheets (see Pt 9 below) to
    • You can access PDF copies of your payslip from Core HR
    • If you cannot locate your membership number, please email
  4. Your application will be reviewed by an Assessment Panel convened specifically for the purpose of assessing applications to the Cardiff UCU Hardship Fund.
  5. If approved, funds will be made by bank transfer to the account stated in the application.
  6. We aim to process all applications within the dates given above.

Applying to the UCU National Hardship Fund

Do not delay your application to the national fund until you have received payment from the local fund. If you are claiming for more than the first 1 or 2 days of strike action then submit a claim to the National UCU Fighting Fund by completing the form online.


  1. To be eligible to make a claim against the Fund, you must meet the following criteria:
    • Be a current and fully paid up member of the UCU.
    • Be paying the correct subscription rate.
    • Have taken part in the industrial action called by the Union.
    • To have been deducted pay from the University on each day of action in which you have participated.
    • Be able to supply a PDF or scanned copy, of your pay slip(s) showing the gross amount of pay deducted in respect of each day’s participation in the action, or other evidence showing loss such as that stated below.
  2. Members unable to demonstrate loss of pay from relevant payslips can include: your teaching timetable; letters/emails from the School confirming your teaching times or other documentation confirming appointment and the time sheets submitted to your School for the period of the action.
  3. Claims not accompanied by payslip(s) showing the deductions or other supporting documentation will be rejected.
  4. A claim arising from this dispute will only be paid if it is received within 3 months after the date of loss of pay.
  5. No claim can be met for members who are in arrears of subscriptions or for those who are not paying the correct level of subscription based on their earnings.
  6. If you have selected “yes” to the special circumstances button on the claim form we may ask you for additional evidence.
  7. Please ensure that you enter correctly all the bank details as we may not be able to recover any payments sent to an incorrect bank account and, if that occurs, we regret it may not be possible to make a further payment from the Fund to recompense for the mis-directed payment.

Terms and Conditions

  1. In no case will payments from combined applications to UCU accredited funds be made in excess of your actual total loss of income. The pro-rata principle will be applied where appropriate for part-time staff.
  2. Member who continue to suffer disproportionate hardship are eligible to submit further applications to the Cardiff UCU Hardship Fund although we reserve the right to seek information on support received from the National Fighting Fund and we may ask you for additional evidence of hardship.
  3. All claims are at the discretion of the Cardiff UCU Hardship Fund Assessment Panel. The Panel reserves the right not to meet a claim if it is not satisfied about the eligibility of the claimant, the details of the claim itself or the supporting evidence.
  4. As the fund is finite there may be a cap placed on payments. We reserve the right to withhold decisions relating to claims from staff at higher grades until the full extent of applications received has been assessed.
  5. If you need to contact us, please email

Branch Statement on 2022 Marking Boycott

What is the dispute about?

There are two ongoing disputes – on the cuts to pensions, and on the general degradation of pay and conditions in universities (the “Four Fights” of pay, inequality, casualisation and workload).

We are asking the employer to provide public statements on the national disputes which will contribute to a successful conclusion of them. We are also asking them to back this up with sufficient local improvements and mitigations to demonstrate their long-term commitment to fair pay, pensions and conditions nationally.

Cardiff University could be a vocal and influential leader amongst the employers in the national disputes, in order to end them on terms which are fair to workers – so far it has not done so.

 Why a marking boycott?

In the past we have tried less disruptive forms of industrial action – open letters, working to contract, short strikes, protests – without this resulting in our employer standing by our rights in the national disputes.

Unfortunately, as the national pay and pensions situation remains poor, with many employees facing a further 6% real-terms loss of pay on top of a real-term 20% salary decrease since 2009, we must escalate the dispute further with more disruptive forms of action.

The nature of industrial action is that it must be disruptive or threaten to be disruptive to be effective. We are always open to discuss solutions with university management which may avoid this disruption, if members feel satisfied that these solutions are sufficiently adequate to address the long-term problems we are facing.

 Can a marking boycott be avoided?

We are open to negotiate with university management solutions that can avoid this disruption. In the past, they have refused our requests, including that of making a joint public statement in support of protecting our USS pensions. So far, 25% of institutions have made such statements, but Cardiff is not one of them.  Details of our local demands can be found here.

Any meaningful proposal made by senior management towards meeting our demands would then be put to the branch membership for a decision, which would take about a week to allow internal discussion and votes to be collected. There is therefore still time for an acceptable offer to be put and voted on before the marking boycott begins, if senior management treat it with sufficient urgency.

Similarly, with the effects of a marking boycott being cumulative, it would be possible with slightly less urgency shown to bring it to a close after it started but before the timing of graduation was affected.

We have no interest in carrying on a marking boycott one day more than necessary – but until an offer is accepted, it is necessary.

What can students do?

It is obviously in students’ interests that the dispute be ended – at least locally – as soon as possible. Cardiff UCU’s negotiators are ready to meet as often as necessary with senior management to agree a deal; Cardiff UCU’s members are ready to vote on that deal once it is agreed, and to end the marking boycott if it is accepted.

It is up to senior management to urgently discuss with us what they are prepared to do to meet the demands of our members. Students can contact the Vice-Chancellor and other University Executive members to encourage them to do this.

Postgraduate students are also eligible to join UCU (for free) and make clear that they will not take senior management’s side by marking work in place of staff taking action.

 What other information is available?

We are hoping that the VC will negotiate with us on our local demands to prevent the boycott, and we will request that these negotiations are open to staff for transparency. The following links will provide some additional information and context for the wider dispute.