UCU still strong on day seven

The last three days since our previous post have been full of activity. With appearances of MSPs and MPs from Labour and SNP, our General Secretary Jo Grady, marches with Strathclyde UCU and finally our noisy presence at the fantastic rally at the Donald Dewar statue we’ve hardly had a minute.

Our days have started not so much by re-inventing the wheel – rather by re-inventing the gazebo:

And that’s before our members from the Engineering department arrived….

Last week we had a welcome appearance from Labour MSP James Foley who pledged support for our campaign

James Foley, Labour MSP offered support on Thursday

Yesterday Alison Thewliss SNP MP came along to the picket line and then rally to show support. Other MPs at the rally included Glasgow North Labour MP Paul Sweeney.

Alison Thewliss SNP MP spent some time on the Picket line with us

Jo Grady spoke to us before attending the rally

We also saw a welcome appearance to support us of Janet Farrar the Acting Chair of the UCU Further Education Committee – up from Manchester where she teaches Trade Union studies.

Janet brought solidarity from FE sector

Another very welcome appearance was Kenny Munro, doing Unite’s supply run, following EIS, Unison and the students last week

A picket army might not march on its stomach but food certainly helps especially in freezing weather.

The rally was terrific as some of the pictures show with Douglas Chalmers making sure GCU got a prominent mention. More reports soon

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And it’s goodnight from them….

Once again thanks to the Communications Workers Union, no mail delivered. Today this was joined by a helpful driver from Initial services….

Unfortunate to note however  that the suppliers for Baxter Storey the caterers were somewhat less sympathetic. That’s a shame – if they’re serious about being part of the university community they need to be aware of what’s important

However, nevertheless spirits were high again at a busy picket line

while more students took stickers and leaflets, and were interested when we reminded them that we’d ‘donated’ our Christmas wages that will be deducted, to their hardship funds.

Here’s a flavor of the last couple of days, provided by our own Catriona Mowat….

UCU@GCU Strikes Back! from Nina Mowat on Vimeo.

Also some useful discussions on the picket lines today with management, asking them to pressurise UCEA to come back to talks with us, and also with Court members on some of the realities.  Still waiting on our Chancellor to come back to us however. Sweet dreams are made of this….

Finally – a shout out today to our comrades in CWU who are appealing tomorrow in the High Court against the outrageous injunction under Tory anti-trade union laws, which are preventing them taking the industrial action their members voted for. We hope all readers of the blog will tweet their messages of support: https://twitter.com/cwunews/status/1199768735441211392?s=12

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Second day of action, and still going strong

A new slogan replaced the GCU Common Weal sign this morning – signalling our views to new graduates

Whistles, pooches and leaflets and stickers for graduates plus an alternative University Mission statement all made their appearance on today’s picket line.

Pooches against the pay gap – consistent supporters

GCU London students joined our staff in solidarity at the London Campus

Together with some great solidarity photos from our GCU students at GCU London and some twitter activity towards Annie Lennox our Chancellor, pickets were again in good spirits – being also joined towards lunchtime at a short solidarity shout-up by Mary Senior, UCU Scotland Official, and speakers from our sister unions at GCU. EIS provided the hot rolls, and again the Student Association officers came up trumps with coffee and tea.

But firstly with Graduation taking place, some students had expressed worries on how our actions might impact them. However, as they had heard from the UCU at their Students Voice meeting, this action wasn’t targeted at them, but rather at the University Employers’ Association UCEA.

The UCU had produced a special leaflet congratulating students on their graduation, and also printed some posters showing how pleased we were with their achievements. Some students and their friends and families also wore solidarity stickers to the graduation, as a measure of support.

Materials were distributed and postered supporting our students

Annie Lennox’s songs had featured strongly in our solidarity music playlist, and we added to that by texting our Chancellor to inform her of what was happening. We’ll let you know of any response!

A tweet to our Chancellor on what’s happening at GCU

And again – the CWU came up trumps in solidarity – thanks comrades!

The Postie again refuses to cross a picket line

 

 

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GCU students discuss strike action with UCU

A packed meeting of GCU Student Voice discussed the impact of the current strike action on the evening of the first day with Douglas Chalmers, VP of the UCU locally and President of the UCU at UK level.

Douglas outlined the four components of the current dispute and stressed that students were not the target of this dispute – which was with the University Employer’s Association UCEA.

He talked particularly of the need to get permanent contracts for university staff, with sensible workloads, and the need to end the Gender and BAME staff pay gap.

In the discussion which dealt with some of the undoubted tricky outcomes of the dispute for students, Douglas thanked the students for their support and stressed that with a sensible approach from UCEA it would be possible to bring this action to an end quickly.

He urged students to press our university to call for UCEA to sit down for meaningful talks.

The student magazine Edit, had earlier published an on line interview with Douglas found here

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UCU Strike Action launched for better pay, and action against pay gap, casualisation, and too heavy workloads

With solidarity bacon and veggie butties from Unison, chocolate cakes from security guards,  a coffee cart from the Student full-timers, passing cars  honking their horns in support, and both the Royal Mail and Paper deliveries turning back in solidarity, picketing UCU members certainly felt appreciated this morning.

The Communications Workers Union (CWU) weren’t prepared to cross a picket line

We had prepared for the worst, with a new Gazebo, multiple umbrellas, wooly hats and thermals, but so far even the elements have favoured us more than expected.

A customised leaflet for GCU students was handed out by pickets at all six entrances and was well received, with some students taking in leaflets to give out in the refectory, and members of EIS, Unison and Unite also taking in some of our materials.

Willie, the security guard makes sure we’ve the calories needed against the cold

Thanks Willie!

The chair of the GCU court was also given copies of the dispute material and listened to a brief further explanation of the dispute when he stopped to chat to branch Vice President Douglas Chalmers, on the picket line. Douglas, who is Academic Staff Rep on Court had already updated Court at last weeks meeting, where he asked that Court pressurise GCU management to urge the Universities Employers Association UCEA, to return to the negotiation table and talk to UCU. At the meeting, Douglas had also asked that any deductions taken from staff be paid into the local student hardship fund.

Pets for pay increases….

As always, Catriona Mowat, had provided an updated strike playlist which accompanied our leafleting throughout the morning.

At a brief gate side meeting at the end of this morning’s picket, Douglas Chalmers talked of the 4 elements of the strike and asked the University to show some movement on the issues concerning us – pay, casualisation, the pay gap for Women and Black and Minority Ethnic staff, and finally workload.

Students Association offers Tunnocks Caramels as well as coffee and solidarity

 

Solidarity from the Student Officers

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GCU Students Union issue statement of support for UCU industrial action

Students Association logo

The University and College Union at GCU today welcomed the statement of support from GCU students regarding the forthcoming industrial action 25th – 29th November and 2nd – 4th December.

The statement from the GCU Student officers is reproduced here:

GCU employees who are members of the University and Colleges Union (UCU) have voted to go on strike between the 25th and 29th November and the 2nd to 4th December 2019 and take action short of a strike.

UCU members are taking industrial action on pay, gender pay gap, contract casualisation and excessive workloads. Research from the UCU has shown that across the university sector, more than half of academics are employed on precarious contracts, pay has fallen by at least 7% in the last 10 years and there is a 15.9% gender pay gap.

GCU Students’ Association fully supports the reasons behind this industrial action. We will back our GCU colleagues who have been forced to take this difficult decision for strike action for which they do not get paid.

Whilst the GCU campus will remain open throughout, we recognise that the industrial action will have an impact for students, for example it may lead to classes being cancelled, reduced access to learning materials or delays to assessments being marked. We will represent you to minimise any negative repercussions to your assessments and exams. We will be lobbying the University to ensure you are not examined on topics which are not covered due to lectures or seminars being cancelled. Additionally, we will be asking the University to change assessment deadlines set during the period of industrial action, where striking lecturers may be uncontactable.

We will be lobbying the University to raise the concerns of staff to the University & Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA), who negotiates the national pay increase on behalf of the universities, so that we can avoid this industrial action and disruption to GCU students’ learning.

This may be a challenging few weeks, however, we must stand by our lecturers and all other university staff taking part in the strikes. Their working conditions are our learning conditions.

We will work hard to keep you updated on the industrial action, providing information from both the University and the UCU.

Eilidh Fulton, Student President
Moses Apiliga, Vice President GSBS
Bethany Stevenson, Vice President SHLS
Susan Docherty, Vice President SCEBE

Further Information:

https://www.ucu.org.uk/studentvoice

https://www.ucu.org.uk/he2019

https://ucucaledonian.com

www.nusconnect.org.uk/articles/ucu-and-nus-statement

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Why the UCU will be on strike from 25th November

img_5050.jpegStatement from the UCU: 

All members of GCU staff who are members of the University and College Union (UCU) will be on strike through the whole of week 10 (Monday 25th – Friday 29th November), and then Monday 2nd December – Wednesday 4th December in Week 11.

This means that we will not be giving lectures, seminars, tutorials or workshops. Neither will we be working in admin and professional services, nor helping with Graduation on Tuesday and Wednesday 26th and 27th November.

We do not take this action lightly – we see our job as helping students gain the maximum from their time at university and achieving their best possible while here.

But we feel we have no option but to ‘withdraw our labour’ due to our treatment by UCEA – the University and College Employers Association.

Every year we negotiate on behalf of our members with UCEA, asking for a wage level which will not cut our living standards, and for progress to close the gender pay gap between women and men in the sector, and work towards eliminating the pay gap which exists for Black and Ethnic Minority staff. We also want action to ensure that our members have proper contracts and are not teaching or giving services to students while on temporary or casualised contracts. The so-called ‘gig economy’ is bad news for everyone involved in it, and we don’t want it to spread further into universities.

Finally we believe the vast majority of staff have excessive workloads – we work well beyond the hours we are contracted to do, and therefore until this is eliminated we are asking for this to be recognised and recompensed.

Instead of offering a wage increase that would keep up with the cost of living (Retail Price Index) and make up some of the losses over the last 5 years, the universities instead imposed a pay settlement (of 1.8%) which means a lowering of our living standards in real terms. Nothing was done on our other requests either.

Following this our union said:

The final offer will mean another year of pay cuts for higher education staff. Pay in the sector has been considerably eroded, while workloads and (capital expenditure) have increased.

The final offer will also mean that the gender pay gap in higher education remains at around 12%, which is far greater than in the wider economy and the rest of the public sector. The offer fails to address the urgent action needed to address the intersectional issues that create the gender and race pay gap.

The final offer does not meaningfully address widespread precarious and casual employment within the sector in the form of any attempt at reaching a UK level agreement.

The final offer does not make a payment for partial compensation for the significant unpaid and unrewarded work undertaken by staff in higher education over recent years.

Here is a short video putting the relevant points from one of our negotiatiors

How you can help.

The GCU students union has put out a very welcome message of support to us.

You can also ask our university management to contact UCEA and ask them to improve the ‘settlement’ they imposed on us.

For details of how to do this go here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/studentvoice

We want to be back at work. We want to continue helping students gain a great education – but we are being pushed too far.

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