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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Cardiff UCU Branch Committee
This is an urgent reminder to ask you to complete the USS survey on sustainable investment. To date, USS has only had a small response which could be interpreted as showing lack of interest so it is very important that you complete the survey and get others to do so.
As you may know, to date USS has had major investments in fossil fuels along with armaments and tobacco. They have agreed to divest from tobacco but need to hear from members that we want them to divest from fossil fuels and armaments. To achieve this we need a good response to the survey. The survey was sent out in the October Members Update or can be found here
Please complete the survey and encourage others to do so. Many thanks
USS is conducting a survey on ’Sustainable and Ethical Investment’. To date USS has had major investments in fossil fuels along with armaments and tobacco (see here). They have agreed to divest from tobacco but need to hear from members that we want them to divest from fossil fuels and armaments: please complete the survey and encourage others to do so.
The Ethics for USS campaign (which UCU supports nationally) has been campaigning for some years for UCU to take account of its members’ views when deciding its investment policy (e.g. whether to have a policy of divesting from tobacco, landmines and fossil fuels).
USS members paying into the Defined Contribution section are able to choose to invest ethically (the USS ethical funds have performed very well in comparison with the default funds) but the vast majority of USS investments – including the Defined Benefit Scheme funds – do not currently take an ethical approach.
USS has now launched a short member survey to help it to understand members’ views on Sustainable Investment. We would encourage all our members to complete the survey
Paul Rock, Environmental Officer
There is just over a week to go for UCU members to vote in the consultation on the final “four fights” offer made by UCEA on behalf of higher education employers.
This is a very important e-ballot and it is crucial that all of our members use their democratic right to vote.
The “four fights” are pay, gender and race pay gaps, workload, and casualised work.
The UCEA offer is here.
National UCU negotiators believe that the current offer represents “significant movement” on three (pay inequality, workload, and casualised work) of the four fights, but “falls short on the fullest extent of our demands”.
Our negotiators decided to consult members. Their statement can be found here.
The UCU Higher Education Committee (HEC) are advising the offer should be rejected.
The ballot itself contains further information from UCU negotiators on why the offer should be rejected.
All members eligible to vote should have received an email from CES (Civica Election Services) with a unique link to vote.
If you did not receive your e-ballot, click here.
The ballot will close next week, at noon on Wednesday 29th July 2020.
We sent an open letter to the Vice Chancellor of Cardiff University, Colin Riordan, on 26 February.
On 2 March we received the following reply:
With reference to your open letter of 26 February, our input on a potential offer to the UCU was not solicited by 3pm on that day and we have not had any such approach since then. You will be aware that UUK in November made an offer in line with the recommendations of JEP1, to show good will and in an attempt to avoid industrial action. The offer was rejected by UCU even though the Joint Expert Panel has three UCU-appointed experts as members.
Recently we completed our response to the consultation on JEP2 and this will be published on our website in due course. As with JEP1, we have worked closely with our own Cardiff University panel of experts on this response, which is supportive of the work and recommendations of the second report from the Joint Expert Panel.
Please see my email to staff and my email to students for more detail on a possible resolution to the dispute.
Prifysgol Caerdydd/ Cardiff University
The following open letter was sent today to Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University from the Executive of Cardiff University and College Union, Cardiff Students’ Union, and Cardiff Students Support the Strike
Dear Professor Riordan,
We are writing to urge you to use your voice today to push for a swift and constructive end to the current industrial action over pensions that is so painful for our students, our staff, and our institution.
On the 19th February, you were asked by Universities UK (UUK) whether or not you wanted to make an enhanced offer with regards to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), an offer that could have averted this action. No offer was made. Indeed, UUK reported that 84% of Vice-Chancellors voted against extending a new offer.
We understand that before 3pm today, 26 February 2020, UUK will be soliciting your input on a potential offer to the UCU.
We request that you:
- Tell UUK today that you want to offer UCU negotiators a USS contribution rate that they can recommend to their union, so that this dispute can be settled.
- Reveal to Cardiff University students and staff how you are responding today and have done in the past to UUK consultations
Today is your chance to contribute to an end to the industrial action by telling UUK that this time you want to present an offer. UUK can only resolve this dispute if Vice-Chancellors like you tell them that you want them to do it. As you have said so many times, we need to find a solution. Today, UUK needs to hear from you. This is your chance to do something!
The Executive of Cardiff University and College Union
Cardiff Students’ Union
Cardiff Students Support the Strike
Members may be interested to note the following additional information.
UCU negotiators cannot and will not accept unaffordable USS contribution rates, because:
- Some staff have already been forced out of the USS pension scheme altogether, having to sacrifice dignity in retirement for financial security, and more likely will be.
- It is the lowest-paid staff – disproportionately female and BAME – would be most threatened by unaffordable rise in rates.
- Such opting-out would in turn undermine the long-term stability of the scheme, which UUK claims is a great concern to them and to the USS trustees.
- For staff who decide to stay in the scheme, rate rises would further reduce their monthly net pay, which has already fallen one-fifth on average in real terms (a matter subject to a related dispute).
- Again, it is women and BAME staff remaining in the scheme would be affected disproportionately harshly.
- An unattractive employment package – pension combined with pay and workload – will deter excellent scholars from joining Cardiff University in future, harming this institution in far into the future.
The JEP was an agreed by UUK, USS and the UCU as a means of finding agreement on the pension valuation. To ignore its findings and recommendations is bad faith and bad science. The dismissal of both the JEP’s report and Professor Jane Hutton has further undermined UCU trust in USS governance.
We have collated info about how to engage with, and sustain, our current Action Short of a Strike (ASOS)
Members’ observation of ASOS is going to be very important to our success in the current dispute. “Working to contract” is an especially powerful tool, given that one of the things we’re striking about are the mental health effects of unsustainable workloads. One powerful way of our members can signal their continued ASOS is by using an automatic reply to all emails to let the receiver know what’s going on, and what this might mean for them.
We encourage members to use or adapt this one:
Diolch am eich e-bost.
Rwy’n gweithio i gontract fel rhan o weithred sy’n brin o streic UCU dros gynllun pensiwn yr USS a’n tâl a’n hamodau. Mae hyn yn golygu mai dim ond yr oriau y telir amdanynt y byddaf yn gweithio (37 awr yr wythnos) ac na fyddaf yn gweithio gyda’r nos nac ar benwythnosau – ac felly efallai y bydd oedi yn fy ymateb i’ch e-bost.
Disgwylir y bydd aelodau UCU yn ‘gweithio i gontract’ tan Ebrill 2020. I darganfod mwy darllenwch yr erthygly fyr hon gan Ysgrifennydd Cyffredinol UCU, Dr. Jo Grady, neu gwyliwch y fideo NUS-UCU ar y cyd hon.
Cysylltwch â’r Is-Ganghellor Colin Reardon i ddarganfod pa gamau y mae’r Brifysgol yn eu cymryd i osgoi anghydfod. Gallwch anfon e-bost ato yma: email@example.com
Thank you for your email.
I am working to contract as part of UCU’s action short of a strike over the USS pension scheme and our pay and conditions. This means that I will only be working the hours that I am paid for (37 hours per week) and will not be working in the evenings or at the weekends -and so there may be a delay in my response to your email.
It is expected that UCU members will be ‘working to contract’ until April 2020. To find out more you can read this short article by UCU General Secretary, Dr. Jo Grady, or watch this joint NUS-UCU video.
Please do contact Vice-Chancellor Colin Reardon to find out what steps the University is taking to avoid a dispute. You can email him here: firstname.lastname@example.org
The focus is now on Action short of Strike (ASOS) and keeping pressure on Cardiff University by working to contract. Under the ASOS mandate UCU asks members to:
- work to contract
- not cover for absent colleagues
- not reschedule lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action
- not undertake any voluntary activities.
It is worth familiarising yourself with the extensive guidance on ASOS on the UCU action centre webpage:
We have a set of slides with information for students (as a PowerPoint which includes notes pages with explanation, and also in a PDF version). We suggest UCU members explain the strike action to their students in lectures and seminars. This helps to encourage student support for striking staff. Continue reading