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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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Adjustment to Safe Zones

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In August, temporary traffic orders were introduced so that Safe Zones for four Ceredigion towns could remain for up to 18 months subject to regular reviews so minor adjustments can be made.

In line with the evidence collected on the use of the towns, Ceredigion County Council feel the need to keep the safe zones in place for the time being. Aberaeron and New Quay will continue as they are.

In Cardigan the closures will change to 11am until 4:30pm Monday to Saturday. The safe zones will not be in place on a Sunday in Cardigan. These adjustments will come in to force on Sunday morning, 04 October.

In Aberystwyth, additional parking has been implemented for the disabled and blue badge holders in Chalybeate Street close to the Care Society Mobility Centre.

Further enhancements to provide better access for the disabled and blue badge holders will also continue to be explored.

Safe zones were introduced in Aberaeron, Aberystwyth, Cardigan and New Quay on 13 July to create safe and spacious areas for the public to visit and provide the confidence that social distancing can be maintained in these areas.

Safe zones will be in place until at least 01 November 2020 and reviewed fortnightly in line with the infection rate and available evidence.

More information can be seen on the safe zones web page: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/SafeZones

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Our responsibility to follow the new Wales coronavirus measures in order to Keep Ceredigion Safe

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The Welsh Government is bringing in new coronavirus measures to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus.

To help further prevent the spread of coronavirus, new measures were announced by the First Minister which will come into force at 6pm on Thursday, September 24, 2020:

· Hospitality businesses in Wales will have to close at 10pm and provide table service only.

· All off-licences, including supermarkets, will have to stop selling alcohol at 10pm.

We are also being asked to think carefully about making journeys: only travel where it is essential to do so. The fewer people we meet and the fewer journeys we make, the safer we all are.

The Welsh Government have also introduced the following measures:

· A new £500 payment to support people on low incomes who are asked to self-isolate if they have coronavirus;

· Strengthened regulations to ensure employers support people who need to self-isolate.

The new measures are part of a package of co-ordinated actions to control the spread of coronavirus and it is essential that we all play our part in order to keep Ceredigion safe.

These new measures are to be introduced alongside those that are already in place:

· Keep a 2m social distance from each other when out and about.

· Wash your hands regularly.

· Wear a mask in indoor public places, shops and on public transport

· Only meet 6 people indoors from your extended household (not including children 11 and under).

· Do not meet with more than 30 people outdoors.

· Work from home, wherever possible.

· Think carefully about making journeys: only travel where you need to do so. The fewer people we meet and the fewer journeys we make, the safer we all are.

We need everyone to follow the rules and guidance and to take the steps to protect them and their loved ones.

Together, we can keep Ceredigion safe.

All the latest information and advice regarding the coronavirus can be found on Ceredigion County Council’s website: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/Coronavirus. The Council’s Corporate Contact Centre number is 01545 570881.

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NHS COVID-19 app launches across Wales

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People are being urged to download the NHS COVID-19 app to help stop the spread of coronavirus and protect themselves and their loved ones as case numbers rise.

The app launches today [Thursday 24] after positive trials and will be a useful tool when used alongside Wales’ successful manual contact tracing system.

It will be available to those aged 16 and over, and forms a central part of the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme identifying contacts of those who have tested positive for coronavirus.

The roll-out of the app in Wales coincides with a national campaign around how people in Wales can best support the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme, including only getting a test if they are showing symptoms; self-isolating when required; and working with local contact tracers if they are contacted.

Wales’ contact tracing system – which is a publicly-run service and locally delivered – is working well and has seen a very high contract and trace rate. Latest stats show 94% of cases are being successfully contacted.

The app works by logging the amount of time you spend near other app users, and the distance between you, so it can alert you if someone you have been close to later tests positive for COVID-19 – even if you don’t know each other.

The app will advise you to self-isolate if you have been in close contact with a confirmed case. It will also enable you to check symptoms, book a test if needed and get your test results.

Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething said:

“The launch of the NHS COVID-19 app is an important part of Wales’ coronavirus response, supporting the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme. The more people who download and use this app, the more it will help us to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We have worked closely with the app development team to ensure it works seamlessly across Wales and England, providing people with the right advice based on where they live. In Wales, the app will complement our existing contact tracing and testing services and will further support our co-ordinated response to COVID-19 at both a local and national level.

“I strongly encourage everyone in Wales to download and use the app to keep Wales safe.”

The app has been designed with user privacy in mind, so it tracks the virus, not people and uses the latest in data security technology to protect privacy. The system generates a random ID for an individual’s device, which can be exchanged between devices via Bluetooth. These unique random IDs regenerate frequently to add an extra layer of security and preserve anonymity.

The app does not hold personal information such as your name, address or date of birth, and only requires the first half of your postcode to ensure local outbreaks can be managed.

Today the UK’s major mobile network operators, including Vodafone, Three, EE and O2, Sky and Virgin, have confirmed that all in-app activity will not come out of customers’ data allowance.

In a joint statement Apple and Google said:

“We built the exposure notifications system to enable public health authorities in their efforts to develop apps to help reduce the spread of the virus while ensuring people can trust in the privacy-preserving design. We are committed to supporting the government’s effort to launch an app based on this technology.”

Whilst the app will be a major support for the contact tracing system, Welsh residents are being reminded to continue to keep Wales safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 by:

• Always keeping a distance
• Washing hands regularly
• Working from home wherever possible
• Following local restrictions
• Following the rules about meeting people
• Staying at home if you or anyone in your extended household has symptoms.

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