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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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Man accused of sexually assaulting six-year-old girls

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A FORMER Penparcau man is to stand trial accused of sexually assaulting two six year old girls.

Raymond Albert Wardall, 55, now of Blaenllynant Lodge, Queens Road, Aberystwyth, appeared at Swansea Crown Court for a plea and trial preparation hearing before Judge Paul Thomas.

Wardall denied a total of eight charges of sexual assault and sexual touching.

He will stand trial on November 27 and was granted bail until then.

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Alerts issued ahead of Storm Brian

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NATURAL RESOURCE WALES (NRW) is warning people that parts of the Welsh coast could see localised flooding as Storm Brian combines with high tides this evening and tomorrow.

The conditions could cause a storm surge, which in some areas could lead to overtopping of sea defences. Current predictions show that the worst affected areas are likely to be along exposed sections of the west coast of Wales from Southern Gwynedd to Llantwit Major.

High tides in these locations are expected to peak between 6am and 11am tomorrow (Oct 21).

NRW has already issued a number of flood alerts for the west coast, and is likely to issue flood warnings for Aberystwyth and Newgale later today. Further alerts or warnings for other areas will be issued as necessary.

24/7 Emergency response workers from NRW will be out at key areas of the coast over the next couple of day to monitor the high tides and condition of its sea flood defences.

NRW has also contacted its partner agencies such as local councils and the emergency services to ensure that appropriate responses are in place should the need arise.

Richard Hancox, from Natural Resources Wales said: “Conditions across the coastline are likely to be extremely dangerous this weekend and we urge people to stay clear, and avoid visiting the coast during this time.

“We know people are tempted to try and take photos of these storms, but it really isn’t worth putting your life at risk. Sea spray and flood water can knock you off your feet easier than you might think, and the large waves can send debris flying onto shore.

“If anyone is concerned about the risk of flooding to their home, please check to see if flood warnings are available in your area, and visit our website for advice on how best to prepare.”

Flood alerts and flood warnings are updated on the Natural Resources Wales website every 15 minutes.

Information and updates are also available by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188. People can also register for free flood warnings either by calling the Floodline number or at NRW’s website.

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​Major bequests for Aber research ​

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TWO major legacies to support postgraduate research have been announced at Aberystwyth University’s Founders’ Day held in the Old College on October 13.

The University revealed that Eleanor and David James had donated £2m to the institution where they both worked for 35 years, while former student Margaret Wooloff has bequeathed £400,000.

Both bequests will be used to fund postgraduate research at the University, in line with the wishes of the benefactors.

The legacies were announced as part of the University’s now annual Founders’ event, which echoes the celebrations held in the town back in October 1872 when the first students arrived at Old College.

The Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, Professor Elizabeth Treasure, said: “It is extremely fitting that these very special bequests have been the focal point of this year’s Founders’ Day event. They remind us how the University has been supported since its early beginnings by the generosity of the people of Wales and the wider world.

“Eleanor and David James, and Margaret Wooloff all dedicated their lives to the furtherance of knowledge and their valuable contributions to education in Wales will live on in their legacies. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”

The Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Aberystwyth University, Louise Jagger, said: “There is a very strong bond between the University and our family of alumni across the world. Eleanor and David James and Margaret Wooloff were all active members of the Old Students’ Association during their lives and we are immensely grateful to them for their support over the years. Their generous legacies will now enable the scholars of the future to pursue their particular fields of expertise and undertake research with impact, which is integral to our mission as a leading University.”

Members of the local community joined staff and students at the Old College to mark Founders’ Day.

The guest speaker at the event was Ceredigion MP Ben Lake who said: “The story of how Aberystwyth University – or the University College of Wales as it was originally called – is one in which we can all take pride as a nation. Driven by the vision of its founders, the dream of establishing a college with University status in Wales was made possible thanks to the generosity of ordinary people. The roots and foundations of the University reflect our values in Wales and it is vitally important that we commemorate and celebrate this very special heritage.

“May I take this opportunity to congratulate Aberystwyth on being named recently as the University of the Year for Teaching Quality by the Good University Guide – a well deserved accolade which is testament to the dedication of all its staff.”

In July 2017, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced that it had earmarked £10.5m for ambitious plans to redevelop Old College in time for the University’s 150th anniversary in 2022.

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