Newsletter 10/06/2020

Branch News & Updates

1. No Unsafe Return – Cardiff University Dispute 

We have now received permission from head office to ballot our members for industrial action over our request that management commits to give workers a choice whether to work face-to-face on campus. We hope that university management makes this commitment for the next academic year or that such commitment is no longer necessary if the pandemic no longer poses a significant public health risk. However, as agreed at our emergency General Meeting last month, if necessary we will run the ballot in September to protect members who already suffered severe anxiety during this academic year and should not have to go through that again.

You can read about our dispute in the national UCU current campaigns webpage and learn how you can support other campaigns across the UK.
2. USS Pensions Campaign & Resources 

Both UCU and UUK agree (as do their actuaries) that the latest valuation of the USS pension scheme is deeply flawed.  However, under the deeply flawed assessment, there is an apparent deficit that USS wishes to fill.  UUK has proposed a series of changes to your pension scheme to address this “phantom deficit” (see link below for a video on this) that would seriously degrade your pension in the future (the Cardiff University response to the proposal was outlined in the latest Blas).  A more detailed presentation on the UUK proposed cuts to your pension is available here.

UCU head office has created a modelling tool that would show how much less per year your pension might be as a result of these proposed changes, you can access the modeller here.

If you are concerned by the potential loss of retirement income and savings, whether you are a union member or not, please fill out this short survey to indicate your attitude towards the proposed changes. It is up to you and your colleagues together to defend your pension and the more engagement there is, the more likely our interests will be properly considered.

Make sure to share this information with your colleagues and encourage them to complete the survey. It affects all staff, and not just UCU members, since UCU negotiates for your USS pension as a representative of all employees.  UCU wants to hear all voices on this subject regardless of your union membership so that it can represent all participants in the USS pension scheme.

Phantom deficit – Quick and easy explanation of the phantom deficit by an expert Cardiff member of staff (Dr, Woon Wong, Reader in Financial Economics, Cardiff Business School) who has been involved in an extensive and in-depth critical analysis of the USS valuation.
3. Joint Consultative and Negotiating Forum (JCNF) Update 

The JCNF meets every 3 months and it’s the main forum of consultation and negotiation between the three recognized campus unions, Unison, Unite and UCU, and the University Executive Board (UEB). The last JCNF meeting was on Tuesday (8th June). UCU members were represented by our branch president Lucy Riglin, our officers Chris Graves and Colin Berry, and our co-vice-president Renata Medeiros for the item on casualisation only.

We presented the following items and papers:

We were pleased that university management agreed to review the use of “relevant factors” on open-ended contracts and we will update members of the outcomes of these in more detail at the next General Meeting on June 16, 1:10 pm – 2:10 pm via Teams.

We also raised concerns regarding proposed changes to University Research Institutes from January 2022, which put members’ jobs at risk. UCU has serious concerns about the lack of meaningful consultation regarding these changes and the resulting redundancies. If you are affected by this, you can contact our office ( to get support and help us challenge these changes.

We raised further concerns regarding meaningful consultation on Recast Transforming Services and Better Ways of Working (BWoW), which are the latest proposals from university management to changes and restructures aiming to reduce expenditure on staff. To date there have been no specific union consultation meetings on what is proposed and how changes should best be implemented. We were assured that an avenue for meaningful consultation with the unions would be established soon.
4. Cardiff University Test & Trace – request for more transparency 

We are still awaiting a reply from the University Executive Board (UEB) to the letter we sent on the 6th May requesting more transparency regarding the University’s Covid-19 Test & Trace system. You can read our letter here and we will keep members informed when hear from UEB.

Solidarity & Wider Campaigns

1.  Solidary with the Department of Archaeology of the University of Sheffield 

At the end of May, plans to axe the archaeology department at the University of Sheffield emerged and resonated strongly with our own members from SHARE who are facing worrying managerial procedures. The University Executive Board at the University of Sheffield has recommended that the Department of Archaeology be closed, despite an international outcry over the prospect that has been covered by the BBC, the Guardian and many local news organisations.

We stand in solidarity with the Archaeology department at the University of Sheffield and with all the colleagues affected by this. Sheffield UCU and the other campus unions are determined to resist the closure plans, which would affect academic, technical and professional services staff in the department. To support the campaign against closure:

2. Solidary with UCU members at Leicester and Liverpool universities 

UCU members at Leicester and Liverpool universities are on strike against compulsory redundancies this week. We already sent messages of support from our branch.

Leicester UCU began three consecutive days of strike action today, and Liverpool UCU are in the middle of their third week of continuous strikes. Both branches are due to complete their current stage of industrial action this Friday.

Both branches have therefore agreed to organise a Joint Solidarity Strike Rally at 12pm this Friday 11th June – to which all UCU members are invited.

Please share the details of this important event with colleagues and ensure your branch is well represented at the rally. It is vital to demonstrate that whenever, wherever, and however UCU members fight back, they do not fight alone.

You can also urge your MP to sign Early Day Motion against university redundancies and urging the Government to end the marketisation of higher education.


3. Anti-racist Wales 

Welsh Government is consulting around a Race Equality Action Plan for an anti-racist Wales and the UCU regional office is requesting members’ input to respond to the consultation. If you would like to contribute, please contact Jamie insole – UCU Policy Officer, at

Jamie prepared a narrative document summarizing interviews he had with members to date. He is particularly interested in speaking to black members so that their priorities inform governments process.

The deadline for the consultation is the 17th June and Jamie is asking for people to contact preferably before the 11th June.



1. Cardiff UCU – General Meeting, 23 June 1.10-2.10 pm 

Our branch’s next General Meeting is on 23rd June via Teams. We will send an agenda and link closer to the date.

General Meetings are the main channel for the executive committee to consult with members and for the branch to make decisions as a collective.  These meetings are always scheduled at lunchtime on a Wednesday to ensure no teaching clashes for staff with teaching responsibilities. However, we are aware that other members, including those who are part-time, might be disadvantaged. While there are no perfect solutions, we welcome any suggestions to make these meetings more open and inclusive.

We are in the process of updating our website so that members can find useful information more easily and we will be looking into setting up calendar invites to the General Meetings in advance.

You are the union and it is important that you participate in the branch activities so that the branch can best represent you and prioritise the things that you and your colleagues care most about.


2. Clean Air Day Meeting, 17 June 6-7.30 pm 

On June 17th UCU Hazards Campaign have organised a zoom meeting for Clean Air Day.  6-7.30pm 

With a discussion led by Prof Andrew Watterson Stirling University, Hilda Palmer Hazards Campaign/TUCAN and John James UCU member and TUEducation in Wales about initiatives being led by trade unions and Hazards Campaigners in Scotland, Wales and England to improve Air Quality.


3.   People’s Assembly National Demonstration – After COVID, Demand a New Normal 

People’s Assembly is organizing a national demonstration in London on the 26th June 2021. The key demands of the demonstration are:

  • Renationalise key industries
  • Decent housing for all
  • No Tory crony corruption
  • Properly funded, fully publicly-owned NHS
  • Keep the market out of education
  • A green new deal
  • Safe workplaces, save jobs
  • End fire and rehire
  • Fully funded social care
  • Kill the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

If you would like to arrange transport from Cardiff, please contact: