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:





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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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Highlights from the UCU LGBT+ Research conference

Mel McKenna,  UCU@GCU








I recently attended the 2019 LGBT+ research conference at the University of Manchester and wanted to share the highlights with GCU branch members. The conference packed a lot into a short day and shared lots of interesting research that is taking place throughout the UK at the moment. We heard from guest speaker Dr Flora Renz, who shared their research around ‘Non binary recognition and the future of legal gender.’ Other areas of research shared include LGBT and the early years, challenging homophobia in secondary schools, LGBT inclusion in sport, disrupting heteronormativity and healthcare for trans men.

You may have seen the recent shocking news headlines reporting that 7 out of 10 LGBT employees have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. These findings were published on the morning of the conference, where we heard from guest speaker Dr Quinn Roche of the TUC who presented the findings from their report ‘Sexual Harassment of LGBT people in the workplace’.

The findings are grim and were difficult to hear as an LGBT person. There were many findings highlighted, and the report excellently breaks down different LGBT experiences and intersections. The report found that 1 in 8 LGBT women have been seriously assaulted or raped at work, whilst Trans women were even more likely than other women to experience sexual assault or rape at work. Disabled people also reported significantly higher levels of sexual harassment than non-disabled people. The report also discusses the sexualisation of LGBT identities and the misconception that these identities centre around sex.

In terms of reporting experiences of sexual harassment/sexual assault at work, only two thirds of respondents felt able to do so. Perhaps the only positive finding from the report is that union members are more likely to report their experiences of sexual harassment compared to non-union members, and felt that these reports were taken seriously and dealt with satisfactorily.

Finally, the report makes a recommendation that the Government ‘must take steps to ensure LGBT workers are effectively protected from sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace.” These recommendations are detailed in full at the end of the report.

You can read the full report in the link above.

These findings highlight that we as a union need to do more to support our LGBT members in the workplace. We crave a culture of openness and inclusivity, but in reality LGBT people still feel unable to access the support and guidance they need. As an LGBT person, I want to see visible support for LGBT people in my workplace, and active campaigns that show me I am supported and valued as both a GCU UCU branch member, and employee.

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Catholic Chaplain not to return to GCU

UCU@GCU welcomes the post from university management this afternoon, that ‘following due consultation’, Father Mark Morris, erstwhile Catholic Chaplain at GCU, will not be returning to his chaplaincy role at GCU:

The university statement is below:

Yesterday the University expressed “extreme disappointment” on learning our Catholic chaplain Father Mark Morris had held a service at his parish church to atone for the “gross offence” of Pride Glasgow. Today University Principal, Prof Pamela Gillies CBE FRSE, said

“Following due consultation, Father Mark Morris will not return to his chaplaincy role at the University in September. The University will work with the Archdiocese of Glasgow to ensure the continued provision of chaplaincy support for students and staff at our Faith and Belief Centre when the new term starts.

The University is strongly inclusive and committed to supporting equality and diversity on campus.”

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No room for bigotry at GCU says UCU


Following the news today that the GCU Catholic chaplain held a mass ‘for the gross offence to God which is Pride Glasgow’ (link to evening times article: http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/16359297.glasgow-caledonian-university-chaplain-holds-mass-for-gross-offence-of-pride/ )  the GCU branch of UCU calls for clear and decisive action from the University.

The actions of the chaplain amount to homophobic hate speech and undermines the equality and diversity that we as a university should strive for. Universities should be safe spaces for people regardless of their gender, race, or sexual orientation. We cannot be complicit in silence when 14% of LGBT young people say they have experienced bullying at university, of whom 94% report this affected their mental health and 64% their educational attainment (LGBT Youth Scotland, 2017).

We are pleased with the positive support given to Pride by our university, and its staff and students,  and are aware that university management have expressed profound dismay at how the positivity of the university’s involvement in Pride could be undermined for staff and students by the actions of the chaplain.

Our branch believes that the actions of the chaplain are in total contradiction to the dignity at work and study policy of Glasgow Caledonian University that apply to all students, staff, governors, contractors and visitors, and which establish a commitment which states:

A positive working and learning environment which supports dignity at work and study is vital to the success of the University. Therefore, we will take a Zero Tolerance approach to any form of unlawful discrimination, including harassment, victimisation, racism, sexism, homophobia, and any other unacceptable behaviour. Dignity and respect should underpin our day to day behaviours, and everyone has rights and responsibilities under this Policy.

In the light of the above the GCU branch of UCU expects this ZeroTolerance approach to be enforced and thus calls for the dismissal of the chaplain with immediate effect. No one who engages in or endorses hate speech can possibly reflect the values for the Common Good that our university seeks to promote. It is therefore crucial that the leadership of our university takes necessary action in order to uphold the reputation of Glasgow Caledonian University as an inclusive environment that celebrates the equality and diversity that Pride Glasgow represents.

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Celebrating International Women’s Day @ GCU


A message from UCU@GCU President Catriona Mowat:

Catriona is Disability Manager at GCU.

To celebrate International Women’s Day this Thursday 8th March, we asked women members of the UCU @ GCU to tell us what being a trade union member means to them, what they would be celebrating this Thursday, and what their hopes for the future were . We have been overwhelmed by the responses we have received. They are powerful, uplifting, inspirational, empowering and thought provoking. The breadth of issues raised truly reflect the diversity of our membership, and the passion and commitment of our members. The TUC reports that 55% of trade union members in the UK are women. At GCU, almost two thirds of our branch members are women. It should be no surprise that women are disproportionately represented among the rank and file of trade union membership. Trade Unions protect our rights, fight against discrimination in the workplace, and seek to change our workplaces and broader society for the better. Today, we are celebrating the incredible contributions of individual women in present times, and throughout history, and we are feeling very optimistic about what we can achieve through collective action. Happy International Women’s Day! We hope you enjoy reading and sharing these voices as much as we have.


AngelaPhotoAngela O’Hagan

Dr. Angela O’Hagan is a Senior Lecturer in Social and Public Policy in the Department of Social Sciences, Media and Journalism. She is also a researcher in WiSE – the Women in the Scotland’s Economy research group.

It’s the year of the ’inclusion rider’ as exhorted by Oscar-winning Frances McDormand.  It’s the year of #Time’s up.  #MeToo continues to grow and the Women’s March pushes on.  It’s also the year that UCU members are striking for economic justice as their pension entitlements are jeopardised and undermined.  Common to all these actions is the persistent undervaluing,  under-representation and disregard for women’s dignity and autonomy.  UCU colleagues are striking in solidarity across occupations in the university sector, and all are cognisant of the unfair and inappropriate action being taken by their employers against their future economic security.  They are also striking in solidarity for the additional disadvantage that Universities UK and individual universities are inflicting upon women. Women’s economic insecurity and undervalued status are already well entrenched in the structural inequalities of gendered pay gaps, institutional practices and behaviours, and sexist attitudes.

These issues unite us across national boundaries too as our striking sisters in Spain demonstrate. Women academics are striking on 8 March as part of the the national women’s strike. Taking action against the undermining of academic freedoms and marketisation of education which we all rail against, women academics are demanding an end to the institutionalised sexism of promotion rounds, research grants and leave, flexible working, and the failure to recognise the fundamental contribution of the care economy to sustaining paid employment.

A Scottish university Principal last week attempted to highlight developments in organisational equality policy as at best concessions to an agenda that’s not shared by university management and at worst as trade offs for pensions rights.  The advancement and sustained practice of equality is what we have in common with our sisters in Spain, and on the picket lines across Scotland.  The goal of equality, for all, that recognises the different lived experience of women and men of colour, across the age span, with disabilities, and with different economic status is a common goal.

That’s why I am in a union, and that union is UCU.  That’s why I celebrate the election of our first woman President, Catriona Mowat as she leads UCU GCU over the coming years. That’s why ‘no pasarán!


ClemmiePhotoClemmie Hill O’Connor

Clemmie is a researcher on the MRC-ESRC funded CommonHealth project, ‘Developing methods for evidencing social enterprise as a public health intervention, and is the Equalities Officer for UCU@GCU’

I am a trade union member because there are continuing issues of pay, working conditions, pensions and institutionalised and structural inequalities that are best dealt with as a collective, working in solidarity across the sector

This International Women’s Day, I will be celebrating the passing of the Domestic Abuse Bill in Scotland, the fact that more women are feeling able to speak up about abuse and everyday sexism, the introduction of ‘Equally Safe‘ and the work being done to make universities and work places safe for those experiencing abuse,  the continued discussion of the gender pay gap and the election of GCU UCU’s first female president

I hope that in the future women’s stories and experiences are taken more seriously, in the workplace, in education, in the media and in popular culture. I hope that we successfully win the fight to close the gender pay gap and to achieve better working conditions. I hope we live in a society that has dealt with the institutionalised  and structural inequalities that undervalue and undermine women’s work – both paid and unpaid.


EmilyPhotoEmily Thomson

Emily  is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Law, Economics, Accountancy and Risk and a Research Associate of Women in Scotland’s Economy (WiSE Research Centre). She is the outgoing Equalities Officer of the UCU@GCU

I am a trade union member because collective representation gives individual members the support they need to fight against the bullying and sexist culture that pervades the HE sector. We won’t stand for it.

This International Women’s Day, I will be celebrating the transformative power of education, especially for women and girls around the world.We are all working incredibly hard to negotiate increasing workloads and shrinking resources but we are still changing lives; empowering individuals and communities and shaping national debates through our teaching and research.  Go us!

I hope that in the future we can continue to do this in an environment that values and celebrates all our contributions, is free from gender based bullying and harassment, where all staff have the same rights and access to development, and where ‘mansplaining’ is a relic of the past.


MelPhotoMel McKenna

Mel works as part of a team of Disability Advisers, in GCU providing advice, information and facilitating access to services and facilities for disabled students and applicants

It’s important for me to feel protected and safe within my workplace. My identity ticks many of the protected characteristics and I need to feel confident and secure knowing that I will be supported and represented in the workplace should I need it. It feels like a bit of a safety blanket for me. I also want trade unions to be as diverse as possible and for there to be visible representation from minority groups. Trade unions should be accessible to all.

I’m celebrating women becoming empowered, using their voice to evoke real change. With the #metoo and #timesup movements, people are being held accountable for their actions and women are joining forces to speak out and create a movement. I don’t celebrate the fact that this has to happen, but I do celebrate women using their strength to empower themselves and other women by saying ‘no more’. Increased visibility of women within the LGBT community, as well as WOC, in mainstream media, sport (and really any area!) is really important to me, and it’s good to see this representation slowly but surely increasing. To give some context, in 2015/16, only 1.2% of HE staff identified as a gay woman/lesbian, 1.3% identified as bisexual and 0.5% identified as ‘other’ (https://www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/research-insights-feb-2018/  which has a definite impact on my experience as a woman within the LGBT community in the workplace. We have always been there, but now we are owning our identities and it’s great to see.

I hope feminism will become more intersectional and inclusive to everyone. At the moment, we still have a huge problem with transphobia in society, and this filters down into the feminist movement. I want ALL women, including trans women, women of colour, disabled women, and women from varying socio-economic backgrounds to think about feminism and feel included. To me, if it isn’t intersectional it isn’t feminism. I also hope we work towards providing better sex education, that’s inclusive of all identities and challenges views on consent and sexist attitudes from a young age.


MarionKeltMarion Kelt

Marion is an Open Access and Research Librarian at GCU

I had always been a Trade Union member till I worked for a small company, and that is when I really missed one.

I needed someone who had my back to give me advice and help me with issues of bullying and constructive dismissal. In the end I solved the problem by leaving that job and moving on, but it wasn’t ideal.

When I joined the Queen’s College, one of the first things my boss did was take me to my union rep and urge me to sign up – how’s that for a good attitude?!

I have kept up my membership of various unions through my career, and am glad to say they have always tried their best to stand up for me. It is great to know that there is someone to help you things like the grievance procedure and to check your rights for you when negotiating with HR.

This International Women’s day, I’ll be celebrating all women who speak out for their rights. I actually once had a lecturer who said to me “Is there any point in educating you, you’ll just go and have babies”! (And no, I didn’t slap him round the head!)

We have come a long way, but it is only a step along the road, there are many attitudes to be changed. I would like to see an end to everyday sexism and to the targeting of vulnerable women workers. We seem to be slipping backwards down a slope of zero hour contracts and changing terms and conditions under the guise of “outsourcing” (Don’t forget our catering staff.)

Let’s ALL celebrate International Women’s Day – Remember, it takes a strong man to live with a strong woman!


MarionYakovaMarion Yakova

Marion is a PhD researcher in Social Sciences, Media and Journalism, and is employed on a casual contract at GCU. She is the Postgraduate Rep on the UCU@GCU Committee

I am a trade union member because I believe that: people should feel secure in their work place, have job security, be paid for the job that they do and ALL the hours that they work, I want the university to stop employing people on casual hours contracts, and pensions should be protected. Ideally these would not be topics for debate but they are and the union provides support and solidarity to those when they need it.

On International Women’s day I will be celebrating the recent movements that have opened up a discursive space that allow women to come forward and speak up. Whilst the experiences the speak of are awful and things that no-one should have to endure, they have inspired women and men to collectively condemn the dominant patriarchal systems across all industry sectors that have paid women less, verbally abused them, taken them for granted etc.

I hope that universities stop taking advantage of people trying to start a career in academia by employing them on casual hour contracts (which are really zero hour contracts). I hope that in the future there is equality. I hope that people continue to stand up against bullies and I hope that time is up on patriarchal dominance.


Karen Lorimer

Karen is a Senior Research Fellow in Public Health, and sociologist, in the School of Health & Life Sciences/Institute for Applied Health Research at GCU.

I am a trade union member because as much as individuals can make an enormous difference, collective action and solidarity has the power to bring about significant societal transformation.

This International Women’s Day, I will be celebrating the many, many women from previous generations, as without their strengths, sacrifices and determination, I would not have the life I have nor the opportunities before me.  I will celebrate the women around the world today, fighting for justice and equality in all walks of life.  I celebrate the little girls, their life opportunities already impacted just for being born female, but I hope their futures are free of abuse and violence.  Time is up on misogyny; enough is enough!

I hope that in the future people’s lives and opportunities are not blighted by gender, postcode, skin colour or who one chooses to love.  We must strive to enable all people to live the life they have reason to value, as only then will we live in a just society.

Jen Broadhurst

Jen is a Postgraduate Researcher at GCU examining Basic Income

I am a trade union member because I strongly believe in the constructive ability of unions to make workplaces safer, more equal and essentially better places to be.

This International Women’s Day I will be celebrating the achievements of women and in particular celebrating the raising of one of Glasgow’s first statues to the power of women and collective campaigning; that of Mary Barbour who championed women’s rights and drove home a clear message that greed and elitism ought not to be tolerated in a fair society.

I hope that in the future, education for its own sake becomes fashionable once more and that corporatism is driven out of our higher education institutions, as through the sharing of ideas, ideals and collaborative values that seek to improve life for everyone, will we see a society in which everyone flourishes.

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History must never repeat itself – film and talk

Holocaust Memorial day 2018 will see a film and lecture sponsored by the GCU joint unions and the Students Association. This will take place on Wednesday 31st January – in M317 at 1pm

Journey to Safety – memories of the Kindertransport is a moving  and short (26 min) film that features testimony of three individuals whose life was saved by their transport out of Nazi Germany.

Following the film, Joanna de Groot, current president of the UCU will give a short talk regarding the rise of anti-semitism, and the power of words to do this. She will also reflect on her recent visit to Bosnia with the  charity Remembering Srebrenica.

Chaired by Nick McKerrell, on behalf of the joint campus unions, and supported by the Students Association, all staff and students are welcome.

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