Victory for GCU Catering workers – no jobs to be lost

Campus Unions reacted positively to the news today that an apparently positive ending had been reached to the catering fiasco which had been threatening Cordia workers jobs. According to a statement from the university, reported in the Evening Times here, an agreement has been reached to transfer the catering contract to BaxterStorey with staff now being offered the opportunity to transfer to the new company under TUPE regulations.

As originally reported in Caledonianunion, the proposals first put forward seemed likely to lead to a massive loss of jobs, and such was the anger of staff and students that following a long campaign with the city unions that represented the Cordia staff, a temporary reprieve was granted (  After this staff at a mass meeting voted if jobs were to be lost, to boycott any new outlets, (, and concerns were raised in the Scottish Parliament about the university’s handling of the issue: (

Campus unions had argued that catering should be taken ‘in-house’ as is the case in many other universities, but could not sway management in favour of this.

However, our main task of safeguarding Cordia workers jobs and pensions has been successful but we will be maintaining a watching brief on how the handover progresses and how the transition is achieved. And of course our admiration goes out to the women and men in GCU catering who have served us so well over the years, and who stuck together in the long battle to eventually win victory.

Posted in Combined Union Committee, Management | Tagged , | Leave a comment

GCU Unions Lobby of Holyrood postponed due to Westminster events

Following the dreadful events at Westminster yesterday, and the knock-on impact on today’s proceedings at Holyrood, campus unions consulted with the MSPs who had agreed to meet us to discuss shared concerns regarding the GCU campus in New York.

Following these discussions it was felt appropriate to cancel today’s planned lobby and  to re-arrange our contact and discussions with the MSPs – a process which is now underway.

Earlier there had been coverage of the issue in the Glasgow Evening Times, which is downloadable here. Our demand for an independent audit of the NY project still holds, and the leaflet outlining the background to this is downloadable here

It was agreed that the monies saved from the cancellation of the chartered bus (the firm were very understanding in the circumstances and waived their charges), would be donated to an appropriate charity dealing with the aftermath of the Westminster events.

The Combined Union Committee will be meeting next week to discuss the next steps in our campaign for more transparency and dialogue with staff.

Posted in Combined Union Committee, Management | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Caledonian unions celebrate impact of migration

onedayStaff and students came out for a quick pic on the nationally organised ‘One Day Without Us’ day of action on February 20th.

Speaking after the photoshoot UCU local president Douglas Chalmers said “there’s hardly a family in the West of Scotland which isn’t built on immigration either now or in the past. And it’s not only Scotland that has benefited from migrants coming here – waves of Scottish born people have taken their talents abroad and used them for the benefit of others.

The University sector has gained particularly from foreign born talent coming here and helping our scholarship and research – and of course we’ve benefited from the may hundreds of thousands of students who have experienced Scotland’s education and who have then decided to stay on and use their talents for the betterment of all”

Posted in Support, UCU | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Staff extremely concerned with GCU New York situation


Nick McKerrell, Chair of the Combined Unions opened the meeting

Second all staff meeting within two months voices concerns.

A second concerned meeting of GCU staff called by the combined unions discussed the situation in GCU New York, and the effect that the current failure to obtain a licence was having on the Glasgow campus through knock on budget pressures. Following only two months after an earlier packed meeting which discussed the situation facing catering staff questions were asked about the current abilities of management following the turning of a projected surplus into an unheard of level of deficit in the last ten years.

Note was taken of the continuing bad press for the university in relation to New York and staff heard that the unions had raised the apparent use of the NY Wooster Street premises for various ‘pop-up’ activities, rather than educationally focussed activities. Many of those present had not seen the You Tube video Le Marché Bleu launch New York shop with quintessential Parisian luxury items and showed concern at how the premises were being marketed on-line. Assurances from the Vice Chancellor James Miller that the video did not accurately convey the actual situation were noted, but the general feeling of the meeting remained one of dismay.


Staff were concerned at how GCUNY was being marketed given possible reputational damage

It had been reported in the press that the head of GCUNY was earning an annual salary of £268,000 – even greater than the £266,000 which the annual accounts revealed was the current salary of the principal.  Disappointment was expressed by the meeting that the annual accounts had also indicated that 18 senior staff were earning annual salaries of over £100,000 – an increase of 2 from a year ago, and an incredible change from zero in 2005/6 (when only the principal earned over £100,000). Compared with Post 92 Scottish universities with a similar staff size, Robert Gordon’s only had 5 ‘super-salaried staff’ in the £100k+ bracket, Edinburgh Napier 6, and UWS 7.

The meeting also noted with regret that GCU currently rates worst amongst all other post 92 Scottish universities in terms of Student Staff ratio, with a current average figure of 21:1 (which in some instances was  39:1), which was the highest in the sector. In the discussion during the meeting there was a clear perception expressed that the current portfolio review was in danger of becoming more and more cost driven, rather than academically directed, and that other staffing pressures were being exacerbated by the opportunity cost of the monies used in the New York venture.

The meeting agreed on a timeline for a number of measures to show our concern about the situation, including a lobby of Holyrood, and a follow up staff meeting before the end of March 2017.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

GCU staff vote for boycott if catering jobs are lost

Staff vote unanimously that they will boycott new outlets if they involve the redundancy of current catering staff

Despite being called during one of the busiest teaching days of the week, and at less than a week’s notice, a concerned meeting of university staff voted unanimously that they would boycott any new outlets set up by outside caterers if such a move had resulted in job losses for our existing catering staff.

The vote took place at the end of a meeting where campus unions had also expressed their concern over several other aspects of the financial situation that the university finds itself in. Concern was expressed over the way a projected budget surplus had turned into a substantial deficit within a year, despite financial concerns having been raised by unions previous to this, and assurances having been sought regarding whether the strategy adopted by management had been sound.

Speakers were critical of the continuing losses seen in the university’s New York campus, and the pressure such losses were seen to be having on current portfolio changes – perceived as increasingly cost driven rather than solely academically driven.

Further criticisms were also made of senior management salaries in this context, where GCU now had 18 members of the senior management team, (not including the principal), in the salary bands of £100,000 plus. Despite this, management emphasis was still on cutting ‘staff costs’ in a context where GCU had the highest student staff ratio (at 21:1) of all post-92 universities in Scotland.

Campus unions pledged to keep staff informed regarding current developments in the portfolio review, and in our campaign to achieve a sensible budget allowing the university to grow – but not at the cost of hard working staff.

Campus unions were given an update on catering by the GMB

Campus unions were given an update on catering by the GMB

Following the meeting, campus unions had a brief meeting with a representative of the City GMB branch – one of the unions, representing GCU’s catering staff, where they were updated on the present situation.

Posted in Combined Union Committee, Cuts, Executive Board | Tagged , | Leave a comment

GCU combined unions call all staff meeting Monday 21st November

IMG_0483The Combined Unions at GCU have called an all staff meeting next Monday, 21st November

The University is facing a £3 million deficit.  GCU management plans for a  “New York Campus” are 3 years behind schedule and are costing millions of pounds per year.   A dispute between GCU and Cordia threatened 70 of our catering staff with the sack, days before Christmas

Meanwhile staff and students are facing the prospect of courses and modules being cut following a management led “portfolio review”.

How on earth did we get here and what can we do about it as GCU employees?

All staff are invited to come along and hear from our GCU Campus Trade Union Reps, and join in a discussion on:

Portfolio Review:  No to staff cuts!

GCU’s £3 million Deficit – How has this come about?

Cordia Plans: What Next – How do we support our Catering colleagues?


Monday 21st November

12 noon.


Glasgow Caledonian University
Combined Union Committee

Hope to see you there!

All the best


Dr Nick McKerrell

Chair of GCU Combined Union Committee

Posted in Combined Union Committee, Cuts, Executive Board, Management | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Scottish Parliament support reprieve for GCU catering workers jobs

parliament“Parliament welcomes the change of heart by the management of Glasgow Caledonian University, where catering staff had previously been told that their jobs would disappear by 16 December 2016”

Campus unions and catering staff at GCU are heartened by parliamentary support for the change of heart by GCU management regarding catering workers’ futures at the university.

A motion submitted to Parliament by Green Party MSP Patrick Harvie – a long standing supporter of staff concerns at the university – has already gained wide cross party support, from SNP and Labour, which we find very heartening.

We print the motion below, and hope the management take this support seriously given some newly emerging, ambiguous hints about the fate of staff in some of the smaller new outlets at GCU.

Campus unions, and the city branches of unison and GMB – representing staff in Cordia, have been clear from the start – the jobs of all staff, and not just those in the main refectory must be guaranteed till April, with proper talks taking place to look at options for the future shape of catering here. Slippage from this position would be unforgivable.

Campus unions have already pledged support for taking catering in-house after April, and we stand by this position.

Here is Patrick’s motion to Holyrood, showing support for management taking the correct approach:

Motion S5M-02507: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 15/11/2016

Reprieve for Glasgow Caledonian University Catering Staff
‘That the Parliament welcomes the change of heart by the management of Glasgow Caledonian University, where catering staff had previously been told that their jobs would disappear by 16 December 2016 as a result of the early termination of the contract between Cordia and the university; regrets that the catering staff would not be protected by TUPE regulations if the university’s proposals had been put into practice, and considers this to be unjust; understands that the contract will now continue until April 2017, safeguarding the catering jobs at least until then; recognises what it considers the positive steps that have been taken by campus trade unions to develop alternative proposals such as an in-house catering operation, and urges the university management to do everything possible to protect the catering workers’ jobs, wages and conditions for the long term.”

Supported by: Richard Lyle, Alison Johnstone, Neil Findlay, John Finnie, Pauline McNeill, Bob Doris, Bill Kidd, Ross Greer, Clare Haughey, Colin Beattie, James Kelly, David Torrance, Gil Paterson, Kenneth Gibson, Mairi Evans




Posted in Combined Union Committee, Support | Tagged | Leave a comment