1. Dispute Update
We are waiting until tomorrow for University management to respond to the formal notification of the dispute over giving workers a choice regarding working face-to-face on campus sent by the UCU Wales Regional Office to the Vice-Chancellor on the 18th March. If the University management fails to respond to resolve the dispute, we will initiate the balloting procedures that could result in members being balloted at the end of April and industrial action starting in June.
With many staff required to be on campus already and blended teaching due to start on the 12th April, many colleagues are fearing for their safety and experiencing great stress and anxiety, which are impacting heavily on their general heatlh and their mental health. This is regretful and unnecessary and we still hope that University management will recognize this and seek to resolve the dispute with us as soon as possible.
2. Democratize the University Campaign
Universities across Wales have been significantly restructured over the past two decades. These changes have centralised decision-making and created a top-down ‘command’ management structure, similar to that of traditional corporations. At Cardiff University, for example, power has been concentrated into the hands of a few largely unaccountable individuals in the University Executive Board (UEB) and Council (the governing body), most notably the Vice-Chancellor (VC), Deputy VC, and the Chair of Council. The governing Council largely picks its own members following the VC’s suggestions and the Senate has been substantially weakened over recent years, with a membership dominated by those directly influenced by the same UEB (Vice-deans/Heads of School), again dominated by the VC.
The resulting top-down management has proven to be inefficient and largely unaccountable. It has led to poor decision-making, including scandals covered by the press, and to waste of time and money and loss of goodwill – with UCU strikes several years in a row, and exceptionally poor staff survey results for confidence in senior management.
In a ballot carried out by our branch in 2019 the vast majority of our members voted in favour of democratizing the University. If you would like to join the working group for democratizing the University, please contact our office (UCU@cardiff.ac.uk).
3. Professional Services
Following the restructure of the professional services at Cardiff University as part of Transforming Cardiff only two years ago, another review of professional services has been recently announced. Our officer Chris Graves has been following this process and you can read his detailed update here.
4. Casualisation Among Research Staff
Research staff are badly affected by job insecurity, with many staff on fixed-term contracts or on open-ended contracts with relevant factors, which do not offer much added security. The Cardiff University Research Staff Association (CURSA) has recently produced a report on Research staff experience at Cardiff University, which highlights the issues with security, lack of progression pathways and others (you can read the report here).
Our Anti-casualisation working group is drafting a claim to submit to the University to improve working conditions for research staff and has recently met with CURSA reps to discuss the claim and other ways in which the branch can help support research staff. If you are interested in this topic, including in reviewing the claim, please get in touch with our Anti-casualisation Officer Renata Medeiros (firstname.lastname@example.org).