More than all right on the night.

Unison@GCU take the extra step for fair pay@GCU

Scotland the Brave, followed by Pretty Peggy O, were the tunes accompanying Unison’s march out at midnight on Sunday

At a time when most staff were either in bed or heading there, GCU security guards joined other Unison members at the change of shift, and marched out for fair pay, making the point that many of us miss – that some of our staff work all through the night to ensure the campus is safe for all – and do this on low pay.

Accompanied in solidarity by Glasgow list MSP Paul Sweeney the staff symbolically marched to the front gate, where they heard a short address from local Unison president Davena Rankin, before heading home, for a few hours of sleep prior to returning to the picket line at 6.30 am – the time when many cleaning staff – most members of Unison, would be expected to normally clock in.

Here are some of the pictures from the Midnight walk out:

Before heading home, Davena Rankin, and some other hardy souls told CaledonianUnion why they believed their cause was just, and what they believed could be done about it.

Davena Rankin, President of Unison at GCU told us why they were out at midnight

Why are we on strike at midnight? Midnight is when our workers work. Security work 24:7 and we’re here because we think they deserve a pay rise, as all staff do…. we are there for our members. We’d say to management ‘You’ve got the money in the bank, cough up, give us a decent pay rise’

Some of the security guards spoke to us regarding why they had joined the strike:

Our message to management is ‘Just be Fair.’ Davena’s talked about what we’re dealing with on a daily basis. All we want is just a bit of fairness – not anything we’re not due, but just some fairness….’

These sentiments were echoed by another two security guards who after asking management to pay up, explained that they were not out on strike because they wanted to, but rather because they needed to

‘I think, after lots of years of austerity and low pay…. there’s a time when enough’s enough and we really need to keep up with the cost of living……. We’re not doing this because we want to, we’re doing this because we need to’.

Glasgow list MSP Paul Sweeney came along to support the strike, and was kind enough to give us a few words as to why this struggle was important for working people.

‘Workers across our country are facing a real terms pay cut. It means we’re getting poorer as a country, it means we are getting poorer as a society….. It’s time that workers who are able to use their collective power through their trade unions drive the balance of power back in favour of the waged economy and make sure they get their fair share…..’

Twelve hours later, some of the same hardy souls were back on the picket line, having joined again at 6.30, with others adding to their numbers till 1 pm.

We asked Davena whether she’d had any sleep at all, and how the picket line had been seen by the public and the students.

‘We’ve been out again since 6.30 since that’s when our cleaners start, and they need our support. Our cleaners are the lowest paid workers in the university. Students have been really good with us. The Students Association actually came down and delivered tea and coffee about half an hour ago…. they support the staff because they know we support them.’

The staff represented at the demo ranged from those who had been at GCU for up to twenty years plus, to those who had just started, but who supported the action. Eilish was on her first picket, and had been at GCU for just three months. However she was happy to explain why she supported this action

‘This is my first picket, having been at the GCU for three months, since November. the turnout’s really good, it’s really good to see the turnout from colleagues and students as well. What I’d say to management is ‘engage with the union, and listen to its demands, because people cannot afford to live on the pay rise being offered to staff at the moment… just give us a pay rise we can afford to live on….’

Jonathan and Jimmy were another two young members of the picket line who had been at GCU for 3 and 7 years, and who explained why they were supporting this action

‘You can see the turnout here from all the support staff, because obviously this means a lot to many people…… I’d say to management, ‘you’ve got the money, so you know the right thing to do.’

Finally another group of Unison members asked that management ‘come back and listen’

‘The turnout’s been great, there’s been so many people at the picket line, and people passing by, students… a lot of support. To management we’d say ‘I just hope you’ll come back and listen and consider giving us a fair pay rise…’

Regional MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy (who was an alumni of the university) supported the picket and also spoke to those there (see below), However before that, she shared why she had joined the picket line, with Caledonianunion.

‘People who are working in support roles in Universities and Colleges across the country, make the building and the structures around it work. Without them, libraries, don’t open, there will be no admin, and students won’t get the education they need…… I sincerely hope management will consider a much better offer in the very very near future…….’

At the end of the first day of strike action by Unison this week – they will be out tomorrow and also later in the week, the picket was addressed by UCU President Catriona Mowat, Unison Scottish convenor Lilian Macey and finally MSP Pam Duncan Glancy. Below you will find an edited video of their points.

UCU brings you a message of solidarity….we are in this fight with you. Despite whatever management says, your absence will be causing disruption in there – so it’s important that you know that

Catriona Mowat, President UCU @ GCU

Your fight is sending a clear message that we will not stand by and watch our pay go down, down and down. We will fight for a decent standard of living for our families and ourselves. We want the ability to make sure that our children get food on the table. I know the value of this institution. As a graduate of Glasgow Caledonian University, I saw the value of the whole team here in terms of delivery of the high quality of education that I got. It’s time for this institution to wake up and realise that we will not stand by and see your standard of living drop…. enough is enough

Lilian Macey, Scottish Convenor, Unison (and graduate of GCU)

Often women and disabled people really rely on the support that goes around about the education system, and that comes with the university. Without that, without every one of you working in the jobs you are in, we would not be able to get an equal education. So the jobs you do is absolutely essential to the work of this university and you should never forget it

Pam Duncan Glancy MSP (and graduate of GCU)

Stop Press: We would like to positively acknowledge the fact that our new Principal Professor Stephen Decent has visited the lines three times – including once at 6.45 am. We are glad he is open to discussions with staff here, and we hope he will make his voice heard with UCEA

We hope management will listen to the voices here, and the voices that will continue to speak out, until there’s a reasonable offer made

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