October 2023 Newsletter

It is not long since our previous email communication, but we have a few important things to update you on:

  • Upcoming General Meetings
  • University governance campaign – please vote
  • Callout for members to respond to the consultation on USS pensions scheme
  • Callout on collective and individual grievances
  • Get the vote out campaign
  • Llanelli Unites Community Fun Day on Sunday

Upcoming General Meetings

We have scheduled two upcoming General Meetings.
The first meeting will be Thursday, October 12th 1pm to discuss the ballot and strategy. This discussion will feed into the larger UCU consultation on strategies to win the pay and working conditions dispute.  A UCU national negotiator will also be present to speak about the USS dispute.
There was an issue with the link to the papers that we sent yesterday. We have resolved this issue and produced a new link. The full agenda and papers can now be found on SharePoint.
As ever, members are encouraged to submit their own motions. The deadline for motions is Monday 9th October, and they should be sent to the branch secretary, Ryan Prout.
Join the meetings using the following link: https://cardiff.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAsfu2rrjkuHteBmdnNyJfGwuNt_yhEqfbV Passcode: 289979
The second General Meeting will be on Thursday, November 16, 2023 1PM to discuss the ballot results and our local plan moving forward. We will send joining information closer to the time.

University governance campaign – please vote

Our branch has been actively running a campaign calling for more and better democratic governance structures at universities. Members of the Governance and Democracy working group have met with Welsh politicians to expose the need for better governance structures. A motion was passed at the UCU Wales congress to survey all members in Wales on this topic to add strength to this campaign.
You should have received an email on the 19th May 2023, from yoursay@ucu.org.uk, with the subject “UCU Cymru consultation on democratisation of university governance”, followed by reminder emails, all containing your personal link to vote. If you have not already done so, please vote now – this is a very small survey that will just take a minute.  
If you are interested in knowing more about our University Governance working group, please get in touch.

Callout for members to respond to the USS pensions scheme consultation

Our negotiators have requested that we respond as individuals to a consultation on changes to USS. See the link here and a negotiator’s report on the consultation.
More in-depth information on the context and possible considerations for members when they respond are in an appendix at the bottom of the email, but the shorter branch position on the questions posed by the consultation are below. Members are strongly encouraged to word answers in their own way.
Question 1: This appears reasonable and much better than the current situation – we encourage members to support it.
Question 2: Pensions in Post-92 institutions have much better accrual rates: 1/57 for Academic staff and 1/49 for Academic-related and Professional Services staff. Members may want to suggest that this gap be closed by improving the accrual rate beyond the proposed 1/75.
Question 3: This appears reasonable and much better than the current situation, members are encouraged to support it.
Question 4: Members could observe that other pension schemes offer options for affordability other than a blanket reduction of employer contribution rates (e.g. 50/50 and progressive contributions).
Question 5:  This only affects people being paid more than £66,000k, so the acting pension officer didn’t feel able to give a recommendation.
Please come to the General Meeting on the 12th October to hear more about the USS dispute from a national negotiator and bring any questions you might have.

Get the vote out campaign

We appreciate that this is a difficult time in the 4 Fights dispute. Many members feel dispirited after the long marking and assessment boycott (MAB), which has not seen the response we had hoped for from employers. It was employers’ choice to react as they did to the impacts of the MAB, and in the process hurt staff and students, instead of engaging with our demands for fair pay and working conditions. Our action was not, however, in vain. It showed university managers our strength in causing significant disruption, and demonstrated our need for and commitment to fighting for better and fairer working conditions. Winning another ballot will send our employers the message that we have not been defeated, and that this fight will not end without meaningful negotiations that offer real prospects for change.
Locally, the strength of our branch has been pivotal in the progress we made and are making in ongoing local and national negotiations related to casualisation, inequality, workload and others.
It is also worth reminding ourselves what has happened to our salaries. The fact is that against the CPI we have lost around 32 days of pay from our yearly wages against inflation just since the start of the pandemic in 2020 to date – that’s negative 8.9%, even with the 2% and 3% pay rises. This works out to losing around five weeks of pay a year since 2020, – about 23 working days.
Our negotiators count on you to demonstrate our collective strength and engage with the union’s democratic processes by posting your ballot as soon as possible. Please do so and let us know that you voted either by replying to the texts or to your dep reps so that we can effectively reach those members who still need reminding. Many members are very grateful for the reminders and the more members who tell us that they have voted, the more resources we have to reach others. Please note that we are not asking how you have voted, just to tell us whether you have voted.

Callout on collective and individual grievances

The ways in which deductions were made for participation in the MAB were disproportionate and punitive. Some members are submitting grievances to the University about this. If you are interested in being involved in either individual or collective grievances in relation to the MAB deductions, please get in touch with the branch.

Llanelli Unites Community Fun Day

Sunday October 8th 12-4pm
A large number of progressive organisations are supporting a UNITY event in Llanelli on Sunday. This has been organised in response to the recent mobilisation of far right and racist groups against refugees at the Stradey Park Hotel.
Gareth Lloyd, the new UCU Cymru Official, will be attending with the UCU banner and members of our branch will be there too. If you can, please come along to show support. If you would like to arrange transport with other members who are going, please email the office and we will try to connect you.  
Email Llanelliunites@gmail.com for more information on the event.
If you would like to get involved in our branch’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion working group, please let us know. We are in the process of creating a role on our executive committee to deal specifically with racism and race equality and we would welcome volunteers to support this process.

Appendix on USS
Recording of the USS briefing 20th Sept 2023:

Slides: https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/14031/Presentation-restoration-of-USS-pension-benefits/pdf/UCU_SWG_USS_restoration_presentation_230920.pdf
FAQs: https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/14032/USS-presentation-regarding-benefit-restoration–recovery-questions/pdf/UCU_USS_restoration_presentation_-_questions.pdf  
Negotiator’s detailed suggestions for members responding to the consultation.
Cardiff UCU