Meetings currently take place online, and registration links for General Meetings will be sent to members in advance. If you would like to join a working group meeting, please email RCampbell@ucu.org.uk who will forward you the calendar invite.
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Branch Newsletter – January 2023
January 31 @ 08:00 - 17:00
Happy New Year and welcome to the January 2023 branch newsletter. As usual, there is a lot to report this month on our industrial disputes, on progress with claims, and on branch representatives.
As a period of industrial action approaches, it seems worthwhile reminding members of some of the ways that branch communications are made in addition to email. We’ve created a Cardiff UCU WhatsApp channel, where members can receive notifications of events or relevant developments at national and local level. If you would like to join this channel, please use this link: https://chat.whatsapp.com/Hd8vclEmjUvCsanTJEDyL1 from a device with WhatsApp installed. We also have a Teams Members Forum, where members can debate issues and ask questions directly to the office or the executive committee. If you would like to be added to this channel, please email the branch office.
In this newsletter you can read about:
Branch News & Updates
- Industrial action
- Letter to the Vice-Chancellor about industrial action
- Challenging sexual harassment in the workplace
- New working group – Environmental Sustainability – please join working groups!
- Cardiff UCU Equality, Diversity and Inclusion survey – closing 31st Jan
- Improvements to University Parental leave policy
- Contribute to the branch – facilities time available!
- Report from the branch’s Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) and the UK Delegates General Meeting (DGM)
Events, Solidarity & Wider Campaigns
- Contribute to UCU response on PGR cost of living crisis
- UCU Interactive Workshops
- Save the date – Cardiff Trades Council May Day march 19th April
- Wales TUC’s Black Activists Development Campaign
- Successful strike action at the New School
Branch News & Updates
Following a meeting of UCU’s Higher Education Committee (HEC), UCU has called for 18 days of strike action during February and March. UCU has released the list of dates and notified employers. We have used Cardiff University teaching week numbers:
Week 1 – Wednesday 1 February
Week 2 – Thursday 9 and Friday 10 February
Week 3 – Tuesday 14, Wednesday 15, and Thursday 16 February
Week 4 – Tuesday 21, Wednesday 22, and Thursday 23 February
Week 5 – Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 February and Wednesday 1 and Thursday 2 March
No action week commencing Monday 6 March
Week 7 – Thursday 16 and Friday 17 March
Week 8 – Monday 20, Tuesday 21, and Wednesday 22 March.
Wednesday 1st February will coincide with the TUC’s ‘protect the right to strike’ day, and many trade unions (including the National Education Union) have called strike action on this day. There will be a TUC-organised rally in Cardiff so we will organise big pickets across campus from 8.15 (please get in touch with your dep rep, picket coordinator or the UCU office for specific details on your picket) and gather by the Main Building for 11h to head down together to the TUC rally for 11h30, where we will be joined by other UCU branches and other unions. We also have a virtual picket for those not able to join in person and we’ll have chairs, blankets, hot drinks and snacks on the Main Building picket for any members who need these.
The January marking and assessment boycott has been called off, but there will be one starting in April. We will send more information about this as we get closer to the time, should the MAB be necessary.
The branch strike committee has already started to put together a schedule of activities for the coming action. The schedule will balance the need for our industrial action to be visible to our students, employers, colleagues, politicians, and wider communities, with the need to focus our energies and leave time to rest (and warm up!)
The strike committee is open to all members, not just members of the branch executive. With the number of days called, it’s important that we have a strike committee with sufficient capacity to manage our local activities. If you have ideas for making our action more effective and visible, please do consider joining the strike committee. Just email the branch office.
Letter to the Vice-Chancellor about Industrial Action
As we are about to enter a period of industrial action, the branch executive has written to the Vice-Chancellor, to ask him to reclarify his position on the disputes as they stand, and to invite him to join a public meeting to discuss the disputes. The action that has been called is significant and the issues that the sector faces are significant. You can read our letter to the VC on the branch website.
Challenging sexual harassment in the workplace
We are pleased to announce that Joanna Chojnickaj has taken on a branch role as a contact for queries and concerns about sexual harassment.
Joanna has been working at Cardiff University as a postdoctoral researcher since September 2021. Ever since her arrival, she has been an active member of the workers’, LGBTQ+ and women’s movements, and she joined UCU at the beginning of 2022.
Joanna is a linguist, and her research interests revolve around the ways that language contributes to – but also challenges – social inequality. She has conducted research on homophobic hate speech in Central and Eastern Europe, LGBTQ+ and feminist discourses of resistance, as well as the discursive construction of gender transition. Before coming to the UK, she lived and worked in Poland and Germany, where she participated actively in (among others) environmental and women’s rights movements.
Joanna is a member of the Cardiff UCU EDI working group and has attended the UCU interactive workshop on Challenging sexual harassment and sexual violence. She is committed to supporting our branch members who reach out to her for training recommendations or advice on where to seek further help and resources in situations that might fall under the definition of sexual harassment or violence. As a trusted contact, she will offer unbiased advice and refer to fully trained case workers in cases of crisis. You can email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would be interested in undertaking training to be an additional branch contact, there will be a course in Exeter in May: https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/12402/Challenging-sexual-harassment-in-the-workplace-23-May-2023-Southwest-Exeter If you sign up to this, please also let Rowan Campbell know: email@example.com
New working group – Environmental Sustainability – please join working groups!
A new branch working group, Environmental Sustainability, has been set up. The goals of the working group are to develop branch positions on environmental policy, to scrutinise the University’s environmental policies, and to ensure that sustainability receives appropriate consideration in branch decision making. Please consider joining the working group if you have an interest in these issues.
The branch has several other working groups, including ones for EDI, Anti-precarity, and Health and Safety. All members are invited to join branch working groups, and are very much encouraged to do so – a lot of the work of the branch goes through these working groups.
Cardiff UCU Equality, Diversity and Inclusion survey – Closing 31st January
Our EDI survey is closing soon and we would like to hear from you on your experiences (positive and negative) around equality, diversity and inclusion at Cardiff University. This will help us inform our priorities for action. Last year, we were successful in negotiating great improvements to the university’s parental leave policy (see below) and we can continue to push for change in areas you feel necessary. Please engage with the survey here (the survey is open to all university workers, regardless of union membership, until the 31st January):
Some questions might feel intrusive due to the nature of the topic, but the survey is anonymous, all the questions are optional, and any information you’re happy to provide us (even if you answer only a small part) will be very welcome.
PGRs are currently under-represented among our respondents. If you are a PGR, please share the survey with our contacts as widely as possible so that your voice can be heard.
Improvements to University parental leave policy
The University will be very significantly enhancing its leave policies for staff who are welcoming new children into their lives. This policy has already begun to be communicated in School-level and Directorate-level meetings, and we expect official communications from HR containing specific details of implementation to appear soon. are currently under-represented among our respondents. If you are a PGR, please share the survey with our contacts as widely as possible so that your voice can be heard.
These improvements come after the branch made a claim for improved leave, after discovering that Cardiff had amongst the worst partner leave in the Russell Group. Although the University has not acceded to all demands in the claim, the changes will mean that it will have some of the very best leave provision of any UK university. On this local issue, we found the University to be accepting of the limitations of its previous offer, and willing to make significant changes to its policy. It is good to be have been able to make significant improvements to conditions through local negotiations. The branch has several other local negotiations in progress, and we are aiming for improved outcomes for staff from those, too.
Contribute to the branch – facilities time available!
The branch relies entirely on members to function. Whether it is case-workers, dep-reps organising at a School or Directorate level, members engaging with working groups, or Executive Committee members, all the activities of the branch are undertaken by members. The more members we have actively working on branch business, the more progress we can make on local and national issues. People’s diversity of expertise and backgrounds also means that the more folks we have contributing to the running of branch activities, the better we will represent all workers across the university.
To facilitate UCU’s work, ‘facilities time’ is part of our recognition agreement with the University. This allows staff to take a proportion of their working week for union business. Staff are paid as usual for this time. Union business is quite broadly defined and include:
- Negotiation in connection with the matters for which the unions are recognised by the University for collective bargaining purposes
- Receiving information from, and consulting with, the University on redundancy (as identified under s188 of TULR(C)A) and provide advice to members at risk of redundancy
- Receiving information from, and consulting with, the University under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006
- Representing or accompanying University employees as the union representative at disciplinary or grievance hearings (including reasonable preparation time)
- Attending Joint Consultative and Negotiating Form or Joint Negotiating Committee meetings with the University
- To attend meetings of the Executive Committee of the relevant Union
- To attend University Induction/ Committees as invited
- To undertake general branch/local association administrative tasks
- To undertake general consultations with trade union members
Making use of and reporting your use of facilities time is really important – it demonstrates members’ commitment to the branch to the University and frees staff up to make progress with important policy writing, negotiations, representing colleagues and joining meetings. If you would like to hear more about it to get more involved with branch organising, then please do contact the branch office.
Report from EGM and DGM
Although the nature and timing of industrial action has now been declared, it is important that members are aware of Cardiff UCU’s collective contribution to the debate about how to proceed with action. At our branch’s general meeting on the 9th January, our members voted the following:
- 20% (20/98) in favour of Jo Grady’s proposal of escalating strike blocks
- 12% (12/98) in favour of an all-out indefinite strike
- 56% (55/98) in favour of 4-day rotating indefinite strike
- 11% (11/98) Abstentions
If the 4-day rotating indefinite strike was not a choice (given that it wasn’t presented to branches as such) the votes would be:
- 33% (33/98) in favour of Jo Grady’s proposal of escalating strike blocks
- 55% (54/98) in favour of all out indefinite strike
- 11% (11/98) Abstentions
Regarding the timing of a marking boycott, 35% (35/101) were in favour of starting Jan 23, 38% (38/101) of starting April 17 and 28% (28/101) abstained. (The January marking and assessment boycott has since been called off.)
64% (61/96) of members were in favour of announcing a new ballot now, 18% (17/96) were against and 19% (18/96) abstained.
Our delegates who represented the branch at the National Delegates Meeting were Andreas Buerky and Ryan Davey, who put forward Cardiff UCU views based on these results.
Events, solidarity and wider campaigns
Contribute to UCU response on PGR cost of living crisis
Inflation is affecting PGR students especially badly. UCU will be submitting a response to the cost of living survey on behalf of PGRs, and would like your views and experiences to help inform it. The deadline for completing the survey is 12 February 2023:
UCU CPD interactive workshops
UCU offers a program of free CPD interactive workshops every term. These 90 minute workshops are open to all UCU members and we highly recommend members to attend. Some of these will also be running as teach out sessions during the strikes. This term, workshops include:
- Allyship and Solidarity
- Challenging Casualisation in Education
- Challenging Excessive Workload in Education
- Challenging Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence
- Collectively Challenging Disability Discrimination
- Community Accountability for Racial Justice
- Decarbonise and Decolonise
- Democratising Education- UCU Green New Deal
- Embedding Climate Education in the Curriculum
- Everyday Ableism
- Introduction To Sustainability
- LGBT+ Language in Use
- The Menopause is a Workplace Issue
- Neurodiversity at Work
- Running Climate Learning Events
- Tackling the Hostile Environment: Understanding the Challenges Facing
- Working Safely
For more details and to book, please consult the full listing on the branch website.
Save the date – Cardiff Trades Council May Day march
The Cardiff Trades Council (CCTUC) will be holding their Annual May Day March and Rally in Cardiff on the Saturday of the May Day bank holiday weekend – Saturday 29th April from 12 noon. Details are on their Facebook event page: https://fb.me/e/2FmQCZVer
Wales TUC’s Black Activists Development Campaign
Join the TUC’s Black Activists Development Programme! This programme for Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic workers will give you the confidence and key skills to influence your union structures.
The programme starts on 13 March and will include several online and face-to-face sessions during 2023.
Anyone who works or lives in Wales can apply to join the programme.
Register today as limited spaces are available: https://forms.office.com/e/uJpQC3yqNS
Successful strike action at the New School
Staff working that the New School called off their action after three weeks out on pickets, after coming to an agreement with their employer. This action has received a lot of attention, given the nature of the action that staff took in their dispute.