Well done, everyone, for making it through five very chilly days of striking! As Karin Wahl-Jorgensen from JOMEC noted, “the colder it gets, the more people turn up.” Standing in the beautiful sunshine does make a difference, and so a special shout-out to those picketing outside Psychology who kind of lost the sweepstakes for weather: dark and shady with a funnel of wind blowing at you up Park Place. However, you’re tops in spirit. Here’s a look at some of you:
As usual, we gathered at Main Building for 11am, and we wanted a big push for two reasons: it’s the last day before we head back into our offices, and we’ve got so much to celebrate.
Just think of where we were the day before this strike began: UUK said there was no room for negotiation and no time to change – their hands were tied by the pension regulator. Only a handful of vice-chancellors suggesting any kind of compromise. Now, we’re strong. UUK met yesterday with UCU, and the talks were apparently good enough that UCU didn’t just walk away from the table. More talks, with Acas as conciliator, are coming.
The students are behind us: 5,600 signatures and more on the local petition. The trade unions and many politicians are with us. All this meant a big, bouncy rally. Our thanks to Shavanah Taj from PCS, Ross Saunders from UNISON and Cardiff Trades Council, and Isaac Kneebone-Hopkins and Paulina Backs on behalf of the student resistance. Thanks also to Marc Buehner, Issac Kneebone-Hopkins and Nick Russell who spoke as members of Cardiff University
Marc informed us of an invitation which is being made to Colin Riordan, to attend a Q&A session on Monday 5th March at 12noon in the Cathays Community Centre to answer questions on our University’s position regarding USS (details to follow). We are certainly looking forward to saying #HelloColin in the flesh!
Many cheers as well to the musical support, including Cosmo’s anarchist singalongs and the open mic performances.
Back to work
The next couple of days will be a bit odd. Back inside, out of the cold and snow and away from the warmth of the picket line. We want to keep the momentum going, so here are three things to consider:
- Send an e-mail to your head of school letting them know you’ve been out on strike. It’s professional and a courtesy. We’re not obliged to tell them what we’re up to before we go, but we should let them know after it’s happened. There’s been discussion about a form to fill in, but that form commits you to declaring your entire strike attendance. If you want to make contributions to your pension for the strike days, we recommend saying so in the e-mail. More details are on the Cardiff Uni website.
- Speaking of e-mails, you’ll have a mountain to catch up on. It’s like coming back from holidays or being off sick. Think ahead, make some priorities, and stick to it. You may be asked to do a week’s worth of work in the next two days: remember that you’re working to contract, so think of what can happen and needs to happen over two seven-hour work days.
- We have a simple Excel sheet which allows people to track working hours to facilitate working to contract. It is pretty self-explanatory, except that “leave time” suggests when you can leave (i.e. 7 hours after start, minus any lunch break)
- Finally, talk about what’s been happening with your co-workers. There is so much to be positive about. Talk about the resilient spirit of the people on the lines. Some people in your department may be members who just haven’t turned up – embolden them to come out. Some people haven’t even joined – tell them it’s not too late. Our memberships are climbing since the strike, and they are protected as members from the moment they complete the online form. We’ve done a lot in five days – remind them of that. Think together of what could be achieved if our union was even bigger!
Take care of yourselves and keep an eye on our website and our social media accounts. And we’ll see you back next Monday.
Cardiff UCU Strike Communications Committee
Further images from today: