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University lecturers strike

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Out: Lampeter academics at the College gates

WHILE planned strike action by staff belonging to the University College Union took place in Lampeter on Wednesday (May 25), lecturers at Aberystwyth University chose to snub the nationwide strike.

The UCU negotiators met with the UCEA last week in the hope of finding a solution to the current dispute, amidst growing anger over news that vicechancellor pay rose by 6.1% last year.

UCEA made no improvement either on a 1.1% pay offer to staff, or on measures to address gender inequality and insecure contracts.

In Lampeter, members of UCU picketed the College Road entrance of Lampeter University between 12noon and 2pm on Wednesday.

Academic and support staff are also taking this action in protest at yet another restructuring process, which will affect posts in all departments of UWTSD Lampeter.

A member of Lampeter staff said: ‘We are all feeling very uncertain of the future. Some members of staff picketed in masks on Wednesday, so as not to be identified and to highlight how vulnerable we feel.’

Students and local residents joined the demonstrators and passing cars honked their horns to show their support for the action by university staff.

A senior member of academic staff said today: “Lecturers and support staff are overstretched to the point where students will suffer. If there are further job losses the Lampeter campus will lose all coherence, and the town will suffer in consequence.

One local resident supporting the strike said, “We support the staff, because what happens in the university affects us in the town. The university is being run down. We need the university and we need the students here, they bring business to the town.”

A spokesperson for the University of Wales Trinity Saint David said: “The University received formal notification from UCU that it would be calling its members to take industrial action which would take the form of 2 days of strike action on May 25 and 26. The University has noted this information and has ensured that there is a process in place to ensure that the quality of the student experience is maintained.”

However, at Aberystwyth there was less solidarity with staff at Lampeter.

At an AGM held on May 18, the UCU branch rejected the call to take part in any of the forms of strike action proposed by their union.

At the AGM, the majority of UCU members present expressed the view that pay was not the most serious issue facing staff at Aberystwyth University and that the proposed actions would be ineffective.

These opinions are summarised in the following motion, supported by the majority of attendees at the AGM:

“This Branch feels that the proposed strike action would be counterproductive in this institution, and that pay is not our primary issue. This association will leave participation to individual members”.

That motion was carried with two opposing and two abstentions.

As a result, the Local Association has decided not to form a strike committee to organise for the coming actions. Instead, officers, departmental representatives and other UCU activists will devote their time to other campaigns which have the support of the local membership.

A disappointed Aberystwyth academic told our reporter Kelvin Mason: “The Union has voted not to support the national strike locally. This is such a show of lack of solidarity to comrades in the union UK-wide. There was a national ballot on it in favour of strike action! The local UCU will be walked all over by management now.”

CEH270516_Page_04_Image_0004In addition to the action scheduled for this week, the proposed strike actions are:

  • A further day of strike action in June or July aimed at creating maximum local disruption.
  • Resignation from external examiner positions
  • Work to contract
  • Strike action on 18 August (when A Level results are released in England)
  • Marking boycott
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How museums can help to shape the future of Wales

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ON DECEMBER 6, Ceredigion Museum hosted the launch of a new report. The Happy Museum report, ‘Welsh museums and the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act’, shines a spotlight on the many ways that Welsh museums are responding to the goals of the Act.

Focusing on the work of six Welsh museums, the report shows the significant contribution museums can make through examples of current or recent practice. It also details the museums’ efforts to develop projects to respond to the Wellbeing goals.

Ceredigion Museum Curator, Carrie Canham said: “It’s an honour to have had such an important document for museums throughout Wales launched at Ceredigion Museum. Ceredigion Museum has been a Happy Museum partner for some years now. They’ve supported us to deliver projects that have had a positive impact on local people’s lives, so it’s great to put that in the context of the ground-breaking Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015. This report shows how we, and other museums in Wales, are ahead of the game in responding to the Act and how much we have to contribute to the wellbeing of our nation.”

The report was developed through a partnership between Happy Museum and Ceredigion Museum, Monmouthshire Museums, Cardiff Story Museum, Oriel Môn, Storiel and Wrexham County Borough Museum and Archives. The project was supported by the Welsh Government through an accreditation support grant from the Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales,

The Director of Happy Museum Project, Hilary Jennings said: “The Future Generations Act in Wales is an exemplary piece of legislation and museums in Wales are responding across the board to its seven goals.  We hope that the work of these Welsh museums will provide inspiration for the potential of museums worldwide to work in support of the wellbeing of people, place and planet.”

Happy Museum project supports museum practice that puts wellbeing within an environmental and future-facing frame. It rethinks the role that museums can play in creating more resilient people, places and planet.

The six Welsh museums worked with the Happy Museum over six months, to deepen their understanding of their Future Generations Act obligations. They also looked at the ways that they were already responding to the goals, planning new activities and embedding ways of working that would improve how they meet the goals of the Act.

The new report draws together all this learning as a resource and inspiration for museums across Wales – and to help them demonstrate their response to meeting the goals of the Act.

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Drakeford confirmed as First Minister

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MARK DRAKEFORD was confirmed as the new First Minister after a vote in the Welsh Assembly on Wednesday (Dec 12).

Carmarthen-born Drakeford succeeds Carwyn Jones as Welsh Labour leader, after Jones resigned on Tuesday.

Mr Drakeford, 64, has styled himself as a ’21st Century socialist’, and throughout his leadership campaign promoted continuity and stability as a candidate, having worked as a Welsh Government special advisor under Rhodri Morgan and being the only Welsh Government cabinet minister to support Jeremy Corbyn when he ran for the UK Labour leadership in 2015.

The AM for Cardiff West has been in the Assembly since 2011, becoming Health Minister in 2013 before becoming Finance Secretary in 2016.

Mr Drakeford grew up in Carmarthen, and was educated at the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School for Boys. He then went on to study Latin at the University of Kent, before working as a probation officer and Barnardos project leader in west Cardiff.

Mr Drakeford went on to pursue a career in academia, lecturing at Swansea University, and then becoming a professor of social policy and applied social sciences at Cardiff University.

His first experience of electoral politics was as a councillor on the old South Glamorgan County Council, before serving the Cardiff ward of Pontcanna between 1985 and 1993.

Mr Drakeford was one of the two candidates, alongside Eluned Morgan, to have produced a manifesto during the leadership campaign, setting out many of the policies he hopes to introduce. These include an extension of the smoking ban to outdoor areas such as restaurants and town centres, the cutting of emissions through greater emphasis on public transport and building on Superfast Cymru – a scheme to rollout 733,000 homes and businesses across Wales.

The manifesto also proposed installing drinking fountains across Wales, double allotments, and piloting a ‘baby bundle’ – similar to baby box schemes in other countries with a package of essential items.

Mr Drakeford also suggested introducing a committee to advise the Welsh Government on the Hinckley Point power plant in Somerset, as he has spoken of his scepticism regarding nuclear power.

The new First Minister has also backed proposals put forward by economist Gerry Holtham to fund elderly social care in Wales through a tax. An annual review of PFI contracts across the Welsh public sector would be introduced, and the 22 councils across Wales would be kept as they are.

One issue that has been subject to much debate is the potential for the M4 Relief Road, but Mr Drakeford’s manifesto does not mention it specifically. Instead, it states a commitment to dealing with congestion, citing the A40 in Mid and West Wales, the A55 in the North and the M4 in South Wales.

The other two leadership candidates, Vaughan Gething and Eluned Morgan, had both backed another referendum on whether the UK leaves the EU, yet Mr Drakeford is less set on another vote, saying he would only back it should the final deal fail to protect workers’ rights.

As Finance Secretary, Mr Drakeford has been in charge of much of the Welsh Government’s approach towards Brexit so far.

In Wednesday’s vote, Mr Drakeford was backed by 30 AMs, with 12 voting for the Conservatives’ Paul Davies and nine supporting Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price.

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Are you a £1m Euromillions winner? Time is running out to redeem prize

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A LAST ditch attempt is being made to locate a mystery local winner of an unclaimed £1 million pound lottery ticket.

Time is running out to find the owner of the winning ticket from the Euromillions draw bought in Ceredigion on June 22, 2018 – with Millionaire code MDLG 86259.

The winner has until Wednesday, December 19 to claim their life-changing prize.

Andy Carter, senior winners’ advisor at The National Lottery, said: “Time really is running out for the winner of this prize, but we are still hopeful that someone will come forward to claim the money. We’re urging everyone to check their old tickets or look anywhere a missing EuroMillions ticket could be hiding. This life changing prize could really help to make dreams become a reality.”

If no-one comes forward with the winning ticket before the prize claim deadline, then the prize money, plus all the interest it has generated will go to help National Lottery-funded projects across the UK.

The National Lottery changes the lives of individuals as well as communities – players raise, on average around £30 million for National Lottery-funded projects every week.

Euromillions UK Millionaire Maker creates two UK millionaires in every draw. For every EuroMillions line played, UK players automatically receive a Millionaire Maker Code printed on their ticket.

Ceredigion alone has around 1,675 individual National Lottery grants that have been awarded to help projects across the arts, sports, heritage, health, education, environment, charity and voluntary sectors.

With all National Lottery draws, players only have 180 days from the day of the draw to claim their prize if they have the winning ticket. Anyone who has any queries or who believes they have the winning ticket for any of The National Lottery draws within the 180 day deadline should call the National Lottery line on 0333 234 5050 or email help@national-lottery.co.uk.

Anyone concerned about lost or unchecked tickets may like to consider either setting up a National Lottery Direct Debit or playing online at www.national-lottery.co.uk.

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