Planning for UCU Cardiff – letter to all members

March 2015

Dear Colleague,

Planning for UCU Cardiff
More Representative, More Diverse, More Effective.

We appreciate how busy you are but ask you to take a few minutes to read this important letter to all members.  Every organisation should address succession management. This is why we are writing to you. We have been members of the Cardiff UCU Executive Committee for a number of years. More recently, we have stepped up to act as President, Vice-President, Chair and Secretary. We have been privileged to represent you but it is not in the best interests of the Branch for the same people to hold these posts for too long.

The roles of President, Vice-President, Chair and Secretary together form the leadership team of the Branch. These roles are vitally important and provide opportunities for the incumbents to make a really significant difference to the future working lives of UCU members at Cardiff University. As with many other voluntary organisations, these roles have revolved between the same group of willing members for a number of years.

We believe therefore, that now is the time to ask for your help to ensure that your Branch continues to grow, meets the challenges which arise in the future and that the effectiveness of what we do is strengthened. To achieve this, our Branch needs to increase the number of activists and the Executive Committee must become more representative of the membership. The primary issues which we must confront are:

  •  the pace of change means that the workload for our pool of active members is increasing year on year. We depend on the work of our members to run effectively – members who carry out their union work alongside their ‘day jobs’ as employees of the University. We are no different from other branches – the work of trade unions in the workplace has to be undertaken, primarily, by local members.
  • the membership of the Executive does not presently reflect the broader membership of the union (including women, LGBT, BME and disabled members; the Heath Park campus is under represented
  • in recent years, the election of branch officers has not been competitive

We therefore urge you to consider participating in the Union’s affairs in some way. We have outlined in the appendix attached the various opportunities that exist to do this. It is important to note that the formal relationship existing between the Union and the University means that branch activists are entitled to reasonable paid release from day to day work activities. The union will support anyone who steps forward by helping them to reach an agreement within their school about how this reasonable requirement for paid release will be met. (Central funds reimburse schools/directorates for the costs involved.)

We are very much aware of why members may not be taking an active role at present, but we hope that we have explained clearly why we are asking you to think seriously about participating in our affairs. The more members who are active, the stronger we will be. UCU’s mantra is “Unity Is Strength” and it is true. It is your union and it is here for the collective good.

If you would like to meet to discuss any of these roles in more detail, and how you might be able to play a part in Cardiff UCU, please contact any one of us or Kim Deslandes, our Administrator/Organiser (See contact details below).

Thank you.

Mark Hale

Ben Biggie

Phil Parkes

Josh Robinson



Departmental Representative / Contact:

This particular activity need not consume a great deal of time, but is immensely helpful to the Branch’s activity. Becoming a Dep.Rep./ Contact involves as much or as little of your time as you feel comfortable with. It can range from simply putting up posters in your building to meeting your own Head of School/Directorate about a specific issue. You would act as a link between members in your area and Branch Officers / Executive Committee members by passing on information and concerns. Ideally, a team of Dep. Reps. / Contacts would be working together within each school / directorate.

More formal roles:

If you feel able to consider a more formal role, you may be assured that colleagues are always available to provide training and support. It is also possible to “job share”. (Currently, our Membership Officer role is covered by two members.)


If you have benefitted from the support of the Casework team, you will know how important this work is to ordinary members. Why not think about giving back something to your union by becoming a member of our casework team?

Caseworkers help members who request support and advice with workplace issues. While these roles can be demanding, caseworkers say they feel that the work assisting colleagues is very rewarding. The casework team meets monthly to provide mutual support and guidance and to identify collective issues which should be passed to the Executive Committee.

President: Vice-President; Chair: Secretary: ex-officio members of the Executive Committee

These officers are elected each year at the Annual General Meeting (AGM). They form the team that would usually lead in negotiations with the University’s management on the issues we wish to discuss. There is little admin. work since the routine branch administration is carried out by the Branch Administrator / Organiser; so, for example, the Secretary is not required to send out meeting agenda and papers or take minutes or perform other day to day admin tasks.

Other Branch Officers: ex-officio members of the Executive Committee

Other ex-officio members of the Executive are the Treasurer, the Membership Officer, the Equality and Diversity Officer, the LGBT Officer, the Pensions Officer, the Environment Officer, and the Health and Safety Officer. These officers accept responsibility for their areas and advise members and the Executive accordingly. They are elected at the AGM.

Executive Committee: Ordinary member:

“Ordinary Members” of the Executive are also elected at the AGM. They are not officers of the Branch but play a major part in deciding the Branch’s policy and activities in all areas. The Executive meets every month except August and December.