Building on from our colleagues in Unison on Monday and Tuesday, the combined forces of the UCU and EIS mounted what must be one of the biggest pickets seen at Glasgow Caledonian University in the last ten years.
In a carnival atmosphere, where the rain stayed off, and passing cars, lorries, fire engines, and taxis honked their support, our sound system and Spotify (thanks Karen!) provided a great backdrop to the staff demand for better pay and conditions.
All entrances to the Campus were covered, although we didn’t have to turn away the Post Office Mail van this dispute, since the posties in the Communications Workers Union were also on strike!
Quite a few parents had brought their school age kids since the schools were also on strike, and it is hard to remember a more enthusiastic group of leafleters for the cause.
We also had support from students – who were later given special thanks by UCU President Catriona Mowat, and graduating students passing between the university and the Concert Hall, welcomed our congratulations leaflet which can be downloaded here.
Roz Foyer the General Secretary of the Scottish TUC visited the picket line and addressing the pickets said that although she had lost count of the number of picket lines she had attended today, but this was one of the biggest and most colourful she’d seen yet.
On behalf of all other workers she thanked us for standing up for our education services stating that fighting back against cuts to what should be an essential public service was absolutely imperative at the moment. She said: We want an economy that works for working people. We need a government and politicians that are prepared to stand up for working people…. I am so proud of you, so keep going, keep fighting back. The strength and solidarity the workers are now showing is going to make the difference, because when we come together our voices are more powerful than they can dare to imagine and we can still make real change happen
Overall it felt so comfortable both unions working together, only distinguishable by the colours of their hats:
Nick McKerrell representing the EIS spoke of how heartening it was to see joint action between EIS and UCU – the first major joint action for approximately ten years
He said: It’s a long time since the unions on campus took joint action…..We watched as the management have invested the money of the university, not in staff, but in renaming buildings, in campuses overseas, and in New York, where $25million of debt is hanging round the university. Twenty Five Million – can you imagine the transformation that would have made for our student experience, for our students who again have supported us on the Picket line here today…..If we had only had decent salary scales for the poorest workers in Higher Education, and fair salaries for lecturers, and permanent contracts for new starts within the Higher Education system. We could have done that, here in GCU, but the decision was not to do that, but to spend on overseas adventures and to fatten the fat cats even more at the top of the university.
Catriona Mowat, President of the UCU@GCU thanked the students, including Postgrads who had come out to support staff, and also Unite for their supplies to the pickets. She also praised the work of Unison earlier this week
She said…..This has been an amazing turnout on the picket lines, and I want to say a special thanks to somer people – a special thanks to the students who have turned out on the picket line. You have no idea what a difference that makes to staff to know that the students are behind us…. It’s a useful tactic from management to try and divide and rule, telling us that we are letting our students down, so I cannot thank you enough. She also gave special thanks to our postgrad and PhD students who had also turned out today saying it’s great to see you out on the picket line and speaking to your fellow PhD students as well.
We’ll see you again on the picket line tomorrow!