November 2023 Newsletter

As you will have seen, UCU did not make it over the required 50% threshold in the latest UK-wide aggregated ballot for industrial action nationally. Thanks to everyone who spoke to colleagues about the vote  – we know that many of you are committed to the democracy of your union, but that we are working against laws created to hinder and undermine trade union action.  

We are also aware that for many the last year has been difficult, frustrating and exhausting, and that some members have become disillusioned with union leadership. It is inevitable that there will be differences in what members think the best approach is or should be, but it is important that we can come together to discuss these differences.

With that in mind, we would like to devote some time at the next General Meeting on 16 November to discuss what we can do in terms of a local strategy. As always, the branch has continued to work on local issues throughout the industrial action and the section below will share details and updates from some of our strands of work, including upcoming campaigns that we need all members and colleagues to get involved in.

In the wider current context, many of our members are involved in organising and supporting events and actions in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Information on some events which are taking place in the coming days are at the end of this email.

Our participation in Y Sgwrs Fawr – The Big Conversation

The branch requested to be consulted as part of the Vice Chancellor’s listening exercise. We have now been invited to speak with her along with other campus unions. Negotiators expect to meet with her in the coming weeks. In order to guide discussion, branch officers have written this document. It  sets out our position based closely on UCU policy and our established local priorities. It is not meant as the totality of what we wish to say as part of Y Sgwrs Fawr, but sets down the basic principles. We welcome feedback from members on the document and there will be a chance to discuss and feed in additional points for us to make in the next General Meeting.  

Help us tackle precarity – Members meeting on ‘relevant factors’ – 1pm Tue 21 Nov  

Please join a members meeting on the University’s use of ‘relevant factors’ at 1:00pm on Tuesday 21 November.

Register on zoom here

The University uses what it calls ‘relevant factors’ to circumvent its duties around job security – see more details below and on the Cardiff UCU Website. Cardiff UCU is currently negotiating with the University to end its use of this kind of casualised employment.

Our negotiations have progressed and we now wish to consult members on our way forwards.

We particularly encourage less securely employed members to attend, including:

  • Staff employed on ‘open-ended contracts with relevant factors’
  • Staff employed on fixed-term contracts
  • Postgraduate researchers (whether teaching or not)
  • Staff employed on variable-hours contracts

More securely employed staff are also welcome to join the meeting and discussion, though will be asked not to vote.  

Workload and wellbeing

The university continues to bury its head in the sand when it comes to excessive workloads and their impact on staff health and wellbeing. A recent article in BLAS stated that “when it comes to workplace wellbeing, Cardiff University is in a strong position”. But their own staff survey shows that around half of staff based in the three colleges are not able to agree, either strongly or mildly, with the three statements that together are taken as an indicator for staff wellbeing in the University (see table below).

(Aggregated percentages from the most recent Staff Survey by area of the University where staff work. AHSS is the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, BLS is the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences, PSE is the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, and PS is centrally-located Professional Services.) 

We are training more members as Workload Reps and will be starting workplace stress inspections from January 2024.  

More member support is always welcome – if you’re interested in contributing to the Workload Campaign, please email This could involve small tasks like talking to colleagues, helping to analyse inspection and survey results, or sharing information and campaign materials. 

Academic Related and Professional Services (ARPS) Staff 

Cardiff UCU are proud to represent ARPS staff. We know that UCU often gets incorrectly labelled ‘the lecturers union’ in the media, but ARPS staff have always made up a significant proportion of our membership, reps and executive committee. We have recently put some more information on the branch website about who we represent and how this relates to the other trade unions on campus, which you can direct colleagues to if they are unsure what union to join. As we leave ‘Build the Union’ month, if every member speaks to one colleague about joining a union, whether that’s UCU, Unite or Unison, we could strengthen our membership and our joint collective bargaining power! You can find more resources here.

At the recent Joint Consultative and Negotiating Forum with the other campus unions and members of the University Executive Board we raised the specific issue of changes to lower grades that was brought by ARPS members to a General Meeting. The response was clear that there will be no movement on this unless we and the other unions escalate it. We are not planning to let this drop. 

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) 

Our EDI group continues to work on areas of concern for our members. Here are some recent successes and updates:  

  • The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) for migrant members can now be claimed under the relocation policy and allowances. We note that this is a good improvement but still leaves staff on fixed-term contracts to pay for subsequent visa and IHS requests and we will continue to raise this with University management. 
  • The university has agreed to work with us on developing dedicated anti-sexual harassment policy and procedures 
  • Reasonable adjustments: we know that members often face difficulties getting the reasonable adjustments they are entitled to, and we are looking for members with knowledge of reasonable adjustments to help with our work around this 
  • We are looking for members to help us work on an anti-racist strategy for the union – please get in touch if you are in a position to help us with this. 

Solidarity with Palestine 

There are many events taking place in the coming days at which members may wish to support the Palestinian people.  

Wednesday 8th 

The Muslim Council of Wales has sent the following request for action: This Wednesday 8th November there is a debate taking place in the Senedd tabled by Plaid Cymru calling for an IMMEDIATE CEASEFIRE.  

It is VITAL that the motion passes and the amendment fails putting pressure on the UK government to call for a ceasefire.

We need your support by writing to your MS BEFORE Wednesday 8th November.  

We have made this task easy for you by taking the following two steps. Click on the link below to see how: 

Also on Wednesday 12pm – Vigil at Senedd hosted by Cardiff Stop The War. Oxfam has contacted them to ask if people could come at lunchtime (therefore 12pm) for politicians to speak to people outside the Senedd regarding their concerns, before they start the plenary at 1.30pm. There will be a demonstration at the Senedd during the debate itself which is due to start at 17:25.  

Thursday 9th 5pm – 7pm Documentary screening fundraiser for medical aid 

Dyddiau Du in the Capitol Centre  

One More Jump (2019), 1h 13m, Fundraiser for the Palestinian Medical Relief Society  

Gaza Parkour Team founder Abdallah has managed to escape Gaza. His friend Jehad still lives there, training young athletes for whom sport remains the only thing imbued with hope amidst the conflict. Is it better to leave to fulfil your dreams or stay and fight for your country? The question is the common thread running through this deeply moving account of sport, friendship, and exile.

Saturday 11th Demonstrations in London and Cardiff

National March for Palestine @ Hyde Park to US embassy 12.45pm.

Please register your interest if you would like to attend the National Protest for Palestine in London.
Saturday 11th November Pick up: 8:00am from National Museum, Cardiff Return: 5:00pm from Hyde Park, London Price to be confirmed but will be approx. £25 per person.

For any queries, please contact Asif via WhatsApp on (ask branch for contact or sign up here:  
– Local Cardiff march organised by BLM to happen again from Nye Bevan statue at 12pm
Cardiff UCU