Newsletter 21/07/2021


This is your Cardiff UCU July bulletin. Please read our Branch News & Updates to be informed about the branch activities and campaigns, and check the Events and Solidarity & Wider Campaigns sections for ways to get involved in the branch and beyond.


In this bulletin we share some recent union successes with you, as well as providing updates on our local dispute about the workers choice not to work face-to-face during the pandemic and our ongoing UK-level fight to retain our pensions’ benefits. We also share concerns regarding UEB’s decision to restructure the research institutes (including some closures) and provide some insights on the changes to the University’s car parks.


In these challenging times, standing our ground and stopping cuts and further degradation of our working conditions is already a victory that we should celebrate. Fighting to keep our rights is a worthwhile fight but union work can feel draining and discouraging at times as the “Red Queen Hypothesis” often seems to hold true: “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.” -Lewis Carroll. When sharing good news with our members, it feels great to be reminded of something even better, that together we can do more than that and bring positive changes to our workplaces.


As we approach the middle of the summer, we hope all our members have a chance to rest and relax ahead of the next academic year. You can still reach us throughout the summer ( to get support, submit any queries, report on issues, join our workgroups or become a dep rep, send comments and suggestions or any other reason. It is great to hear from members and feel the union alive with ideas and solidarity.


“variety is life; uniformity is death”

Peter Kropotkin

(Russian activist, essayist, researcher and writer)


  1. One-off payment to all Cardiff University staff
  1. Progress in our Anti-Casualisation Campaign: Relevant Factors, Variable Hours & Postgraduate Workers
  1. Dispute over choice not to work face-to-face during the pandemic
  1. USS Pensions – The Fight Goes On
  1. University Car Parking
  1. UCU HE Special Sector Conference on HE Disputes
  1. Discrimination in UK universities

Plus upcoming events and wider campaigns.

Branch News & Updates:

1. One-off payment to all Cardiff University staff 

We owe thanks to our fellow Unison colleague, Katie Hall, whose work has resulted in University giving a one-off payment of £250 to all staff. This shows that the University recognise that staff have been undervalued and we will continue to push for long-term better pay and conditions. We hope this reward will reach everyone who contributed to keep the University going during the pandemic and our Anti-Casualisation Officer, Rachel Beaney, wrote to the Vice-Chancelor to clarify the terms of this award, please get in touch with us if you think you are being excluded.
2.  Progress in our Anti-Casualisation Campaign: Relevant Factors, Variable Hours & Postgraduate Workers 

We are very happy to be able to report positive progress in all three of our key areas of work within the anti-casualisation group!
Postgraduate workers 

We are very happy to report that after a long campaign the Teaching Delivery Governance group is recommending that postgraduates are offered contracts for their teaching roles in the University, which could be implemented in 2022. The is the result of years of great work by many of our current and previous members, including Grace Krouse, Rowan Campbell, Josh Robinson and Rachel Beaney. The Anti-Casualisation Campaign has shown incredible team work in great spirit of solidarity; this is still work in progress but we are hopeful of the outcome and we will continue contributing to the governance group discussions on this and other teaching related issues.

Many of you might not benefit directly from the fruits of this campaign, but it is contributing to a fairer and more pleasant workplace for all and it would not be possible without the power you impart on the branch by being a member.

This is an important outcome for out postgraduate members in particular. Cardiff University is one of the universities that currently does not recognise postgraduates as employees, which means they have fewer rights compared to other teaching staff or with postgraduates in other universities. You can read more about UCU’s manifesto for postgraduate researchers (PGRs) here.
Relevant factors 

We are happy to report that senior management has agreed to set up a process for revising the use of relevant factors (where an end-date is included on the end of “permanent” staff contracts). And to address the concerns we outlined in our recent claim, which you can read here. This claim was led by Ryan Davey after very helpful discussions with CURSA (Cardiff University Research Staff Association). This work should start in the next academic year, and we will keep members informed of its progress.

Unfortunately, we recently heard that Cardiff University plans to re-structure some research institutes and close at least two of them. Most people working for these research institutes are on open-ended contracts with relevant factor and many are being put forward for redundancy. These changes have been planned for at least 18 months but there was no meaningful consultation with the union (or with staff) on these closures and we are challenging these redundancies on that basis. If you are affected by this, get in touch with the office ( to help us build a stronger case and support you individually, if needed.
Variable hours 

We have good news from the School of Modern Languages, where the branch have been discussing a range of topics affecting hourly-paid staff with School management. The School has given us a commitment to contact all staff very soon with clarification on issues raised by our members. They have also recently confirmed that they will support a grading review of the “Languages for All” tutors, who have been working at grade 5, while performing tasks that align with a grade 6 teacher post. This review will start very soon. We are also discussing issues of hourly-paid staff with university management as part of the Teaching delivery governance group and we urge people on these contracts to join our Anti-casualisation workgroup and contribute to the discussions.

Many of you might not benefit directly from our Anti-casualisation campaign, but it is contributing to a fairer and more pleasant workplace for all and it would not be possible without the power you impart on the branch by being a member. Regardless of your situation with Cardiff University, you can help unravelling and breaking the iceberg of casualisation.

If you have any questions/comments, please contact the office (, or our Anti-Casualisation Officer, Rachel Beaney (

3. Dispute over choice not to work face-to-face during the pandemic 

Following UEB’s recent good-will act of giving all staff a bonus payment in recognition of the hard-work and challenges that staff faced as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, we hope that another act of good-will empowering workers with a choice about face-to-face work will follow if the risks of the pandemic are still high at the start of the new academic year, as it seems likely to be the case.

As agreed at our General Meeting in June, if necessary, we will run a ballot in the Autumn to protect members who do not feel safe returning to face-to-face working on campus.

If you have been asked to work face-to-face during the summer and have concerns about that, please get in touch with your dep rep, the UCU office (, or our Health & Safety Officer, Andy Skyrme (

In the meantime, discussions of health & safety are ongoing in terms of planning for the next academic year and this thread on Twitter about indoor risks of COVID-19 spreading, by Professor Jose-Luiz Jimenez, a specialist in aerosols and disease transmission can be very helpful to inform any discussions among staff who are expected to work face-to-face. His COVID-19 Aerosol Transmission Estimator is freely available here.


4. USS Pensions – The Fight Goes On 

According to UCU Head Office, an amazing twenty thousand people have now used the UCU’s USS modeller to see how employers’ proposals would impact individual retirement benefits. It’s clear that university workers are extremely concerned about the future of the scheme. To find out how your pension might be affected, just input your date of birth and salary details then share how the cuts impact you by tweeting the results with #NotTodayUUK. Please also complete the survey at the end which will help inform our negotiations with employers and USS.

We submitted branch members’ views on the strategy to fight for our pensions at the last General Meeting and through a survey, these can be found here.

Cardiff University apparently shares concerns regarding the USS 2020 valuation but declined our request to make a public joint statement on these shared concerns. UUK’s position after consulting with its members (UK universities) is that there is support to proceed with the USS 2020 valuation that results in staff bearing the brunt of the proclaimed deficit and paying more into their pensions to maintain the current benefits.

The Financial Times published an article on USS, highly critical of 2020 valuation and referring to work by our member and pensions expert Woon Wong. Woon’s position is that we should fight to halt the October increase and replace the 2020 valuation with a new 2021 valuation that corrects the faults clearly highlighted.

Cardiff UCU executive committee will be calling an Emergency General Meeting that will include a vote on a branch’s financial contribution to a legal claim against the USS proposed by Ewan McGaughey, a reader in Law at King’s College, London, and KCL UCU branch president.

If you have any questions/comments, please contact the office (, or our Pensions Officer, David Atkins (


5. University Car Parking 

As members will be aware, University car parking suffered a number of significant issues for many years prior to the Covid-19 lockdown. Notably, eligibility to park was based on seniority and length of service and contraventions were unenforceable.

In 2019, UCU drafted a proposal for a more transparent, fair, needs-based scheme. In view of this and the University’s declaration of a Climate Emergency, a joint paper developed by UCU and Estates Operations requesting approval to review University parking arrangements was approved by the University’s HSE Committee. Shortly after that, Covid-19 changed the situation significantly!

As more staff are likely to return to campus from the autumn, it is essential that University parking works for those who need it most and UEB have now approved an outline proposal, based broadly on the original UCU draft – which all three trade unions have worked with Estates on, to introduce a new scheme from January 2022.

Detail around parking fees, management and policy compliance arrangements are still to be agreed but applications to determine parking eligibility will open soon and will be determined by use of a needs-based parking eligibility criteria aligned with the following agreed principles:

·         Childcare

·         Caring responsibilities

·         Non-standard / out of hours contracted hours

·         Access to Public Transport

This process will be supported by an appeals and exceptions panel which will include representatives of all three trade unions.

The University has scheduled two webinars to introduce the planned changes to parking which we strongly encourage interested members to attend:

You can register to attend here.

If you have any questions/comments, please contact the office (, or our Environmental Officer, Paul Rock (


6. UCU HE Special Sector Conference on HE Disputes 

The UCU Higher Education Committee has resolved that a HE special sector conference will take place online on Thursday 9 September, on the topic of HE dispute(s), including New JNCHES, USS, TPS, and any possible links between them.

You can read more details in the meeting circular here.

We are entitled to a total of four branch delegates and two motions, that need to be voted at a branch’s General Meeting. The deadline for motions is 12 noon on 23 August; for delegate registration, 5:00pm, Friday 3 September.

If you would like to join the conference or submit a motion, please contact the office as soon as possible so that we can include these in the agenda of an Emergency General Meeting before the 23th August.


7. Discrimination in UK universities 

A UCU report on the levels of LGBT discrimination in UK universities, particularly serious when intercalated with racial discrimination, with 100% of black LGBT respondents reporting either personal discriminatory experiences or having witnessed derogatory language towards others, and a recent report by researchers in Dundee University based on data collected in March 2021, showing that 50% of HE staff report high levels of anxiety and 47% report poor mental health, with poorer levels correlated to lack of control over their work and the sense of not feeling valued, bring to light that trade unions have an important role to play in fighting for better workplaces for all.

You can see here the motions voted at the UCU national congress in May-June this year. These include motions to defend our pensions, fight casualisation, resist cuts and fight for better pay, against discrimination in promotion, for academic freedom, on building up the national workload campaign, on the covid-19 impacts on black members, to decolonise curricula and support Black Lives Matter campaigns, to combat ableism, to promote equality of genders and fight gender-based violence, to promote trans equality, to defend the rights of LGBT members, to defend asylum seekers and fight the hostile environment policies, to defend the arts from government attacks, to promote environmental sustainability and fight climate change, against nuclear armament, on the right to protest, on the definition of anti-Semitism, on international solidarity, and others.

These illustrate the multitude and diversity of issues that a big union like UCU represents and the reach and impact it can have in society. In the words of UCU president, Vicky Blake, during the congress: “It is our collective responsibility to build the union, and we must always be vigilant not to fall into the dive-and-rule tactics of employers because our unity is our strength and when we are united, we are a force to be reckoned with.”

Solidarity & Wider Campaigns:

1. Victory for other UCU branches! 

Across other branches, there are good news from Open University UCU, which have agreed a life-changing deal with the university to ensure improved pay and job security for more than 4,000 associate lecturers who will be moved onto new permanent contracts; from New City College UCU whose threat of industrial action over a restructure of supported learning has led to the employer confirming there will be no compulsory redundancies; and from UCU and Unison at Newcastle College Group which managed to negotiate a pay increase to their seven branches. Unison also recently won a victory in court for all the trade union movement, by winning a case which resulted in the amendment of the Trade Union Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 making it unlawful for employers to discipline or make life difficult to staff who were involved in strike action, correcting a grave loophole in UK law. There are also good news from Unite, whose Go North West drivers in Manchester celebrated a historic victory after defeating attempts to “fire and rehire” them after 80 days of strike action in May.
2.  HE Restructuring Exercises & Prison Education  

Department of Archaeology – Sheffield University

Sheffield UCU held an Emergency General Meeting to discuss responses to the decision by Sheffield University to close their reputable Department of Archaeology. Our office sent Sheffield UCU the solidarity message below from our colleagues in the Cardiff School of History, Archaeology and Religion:

“We, as UCI representing archaeologists and conservators at Cardiff University, condemn the treatment of staff and students at The University of Sheffield department of archaeology. It is clear that the process of reviewing the future of the archaeology department was neither transparent nor impartial and was entirely lacking in empathy, compassion and courtesy. The University Executive Board have made a devastating decision to close a world leading department with no regard for the livelihoods of staff, the education of students or their obligations to local, national and international communities. This is a shameful, ill-conceived and reckless decision, and we stand in solidarity with colleagues in Sheffield in fighting this decision.”

University College Birmingham 

University College Birmingham management are conducting a restructuring exercise. Management argues this is not a cost cutting exercise but 73 senior lecturing staff have been told they are at risk of redundancy and asked to re-apply for 42 new senior lecturer roles. Please sign & share this petition ( with all of your contacts, in support of Midlands members at University College Birmingham who are facing a brutal attack on jobs.

Prison Education 

The Novus UCU prison education dispute over health and safety is also still ongoing. Around 600 educators in 49 prisons took four days of action in May and June over health and safety concerns. Members this week voted overwhelmingly to take further strike action. Our branch sent a message of solidarity to Novus UCU. Please send messages of support via Twitter @ucuprisoned and consider donating to either the national fighting fund (, reference NOVUS, or the local strike fund: sort code 60-83-01 and account number: 20240811.

You can read here news on other HE disputes across the UK and how to support them. 
3. Hazards Campaign – Survey on Hybrid Working 

The national Hazards Campaign, supported by UCU, are carrying out a survey on Hybrid working. Here is the link to the survey.

Please circulate and complete, if possible,
4. NHS Pay Rise 

Matthew Tovey, a Welsh nurse started a petition for a 15% NHS pay rise that has been signed by more than three-quarters of a million people. The petition, called Claps Don’t Pay the Bills, will be officially delivered to Downing St on Tuesday 20th July at 4 pm. You can add your name here.

There will be an assembly and rally from 2.30 pm at Old Palace Yard. You can check the Facebook Event page for more information.

Zarah Sultana (Labour MP) will raise the issue to Parliament at 7pm. Several MPs have stated they will come out and support the rally.

On Saturday 3rd July, marking the 73rd anniversary of the founding of our NHS, protests were organized all over the country in defence of keeping the NHS public and demanding better working conditions for staff. Our officers Lucy Riglin, Renata Medeiros, and Phil Parkes, represented the branch in the Cardiff protest.

5. Victory in the Fight of the Hostile Environment 

We are very pleased to report that Osime Brown, a young boy with autism and learning difficulties, will be allowed to remain with his family following a Home Office decision to withdraw the deportation order. Osime had served a prison sentence under the disputed joint enterprise policy and was due to be deported to Jamaica but a campaign by Black and Disabled Peoples Organisations supported by UCU through the massive effort of its black and disabled members, has succeeded in ensuring Osime will now remain at home in Dudley with his mother.

If you are interested in wider campaigns in support of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, you can check the Anti-Raids Network or the No Evictions Network.
6. Defend the arts: say no to cuts to creative and performing arts 

The government is proposing big cuts to creative and performing arts courses at English universities. Please sign this petition backed by UCU, Equity UK, BECTU, Writers Guild of Great Britain, Musicians’ Union, Unison and Unite and tell Boris Johnson that the arts should be for everyone.
7. Solidarity with Palestine 

At a General Meeting in June our branch voted in support of a motion related to the ongoing situation in Palestine (link to minutes from EGM). Those supporting the motion may wish to sign up to the British Committee for Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) here and/or to sign the Academic Commitment to Palestine.


1.  UCU H&S focused Breakfast Briefing Webinar, 28 July 9-9.30 am 

You are invited to register for the next UCU H&S focused Breakfast briefing webinar

Theme: ‘Asbestos: An increasing H&S concern’ 

Date: Wednesday 28th July 2021 

Time: 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

These breakfast briefing webinars are designed to equip reps and ordinary members with the knowledge they need to challenge the employer with confidence. Our Health and Safety officer and Training officer will be considering asbestos as an increasing issue within our institutions and workplaces. We will discuss how reps can begin to hold employers to account and ensure the workplace is not a threat to members and others health and safety. Should you have any specific questions around this topic please do ask them on the registration form.

To register please complete this short form.

If you’ve missed previous sessions, you can see a list of topics and past breakfast briefing recordings here.


2. Transforming UCU – Development Programme, September/December 2021 

The application process for Cohort 11 of the ever-popular Transforming UCU programme is still open. Transforming UCU isn’t like a normal trade union course. Participants take part in a comprehensive package of training, discussion and support delivered across two residential modules. Feedback from those taking part has been extremely positive.

The programme is arranged over two modules:

Module 1: UCU, strategic choice, building power, and leadership in a changing world;

Module 2: Building collective identity, organising and learning from others, taking control at the workplace

Sessions will be held in September and December and led by leading academics and practitioners. Sharing ideas, experience, and different perspectives is a key element of the programme. It is important that UCU remains a strong union with the ability to make independent decisions, based on strategic choices that consider carefully the environment we operate within. This programme will help participants consider the position of UCU, how to build power for effective bargaining, and different types of leadership within a trade union setting.

Please apply online as soon as possible as places are extremely limited. The absolute deadline is Friday 13 August 2021


3. UCU LGBT+ research conference, November 2021 

UCU LGBT+ research conference will be held online over 3 days during the first week of November 2021. This notice announces the opening of the call for papers. For further information and to submit a proposal please click here.