Well, that’s the second week of this phase of industrial action over!

One of the strongest pickets yet saw a colourful and noisy celebration of our demands in front of the main gate today.

We also got tremendous support from passing cars, lorries, Fire Engines, and even a police car, thanks to the work of  Suzanne and Alice

Passing motorists weren’t happy with lack of equal pay and non permanent contracts

Meanwhile the student solidarity network was also out leafleting, and ensuring students knew their staff were supported, with posters inside the main buildings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, down at GCU London our colleagues weren’t idle either

GCU London

We’re back out next week, on Monday – Thursday, with plans under construction for different gate side speakers, and some alternative ‘Teach Outs” for students on Wednesday if all goes well.

 

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Spirits high on day three of our Industrial Action

The local Public Service Union PCS were a welcome addition to today’s picket line with Lindsay Morgan and Magnus Hughson bringing along their local banner.

And from early on we also had the welcome support from the newly formed Student support network who distributed the excellent GCU students support the strikers leaflet.

The facts of the strike remain unchanged – UCEA, the University and College Employers Association have refused to shift on their below RPI inflation salary offer of 1.8 Percent, and no real shift towards eliminating casualised work, zero hours, or ending the gender pay gap.

Here are some of the key priorities our negotiators have set out and which employers still refuse to incorporate into their offer to us: 

  • on pay, our negotiators have indicated that they are open to an offer that falls between the employer offer of 1.8% and our original demand of 3% plus RPI (5.2% as of December).
  • all institutional action plans on job security, equality and workload should be implemented by working groups with clear deadlines
  • all action plans should be implemented in collaboration with recognised trade unions
  • all action plans should be publicly available
  • unions should be given more detailed, reliable information on equality, workload and job security than employers currently provide via the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and other outlets.

Alongside these there are extra targets on workload and job security in particular which our employers still refuse to meet.

On workload:

  • workload models need to be realistic, accurate, comprehensive reflections of the hours which staff actually work
  • staff should not be assigned more work than their annual workload quota permits
  • institutions should provide campus unions with data on staff reporting to occupational health for workload-related reasons.

On job security: 

  • employers should commit to abolish zero-hours contracts. Most employers do not use them and other countries (e.g. Ireland) have effectively banned them
  • procedures for converting fixed-term staff to open-ended employment should be faster than the statutory minimum of 4 years
  • there should be clearer and firmer criteria for conversion of hourly paid staff to fractional contracts.

Employers could resolve this dispute now and it would cost them hardly anything. In fact, many of the things we are asking for could save them money over time. It is a tragedy for the sector that they are permitting the largest strike in its history to continue. The blame lies solely with them – do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

 

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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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