Universities need to change how they treat their staff

Research published by UCU following a survey of almost 7000 staff over 100 institutions, has indicated that

  • more than eight in 10 (81%) of respondents aged between 18 and 29 said they are likely or very likely to leave the sector in the next five years
  • almost eight in 10 (78%) respondents said employers’ failure to address issues around terms and conditions is preventing them from doing their job as well as they would want to
  • workload, pay and casualisation are three biggest factors driving respondents away from higher education

This research carried out between 25 February and 2nd March provides a shocking snapshot of how staff feel about working in the sector:

Your local branch of the UCU has been active on each of these issues above through our work with the other campus unions in the Joint Consultative Committee which meets regularly with local management. Our recent AGM decided that workload would be the priority campaign in the next period locally – and we’ve already taken the first steps aiming to appoint local workload reps in each department and talking to the other campus unions about a joint approach for substantial action from management on this. We have also taken our first steps in discussing our own vision of the University and how we think GCU needs to develop in the next phase of its activity as a ‘University for the Common Good’. If you’re personally interested in getting more involved in our workload campaign, or looking at a vision for the university in the next period, please just contact your Branch Secretary Lyle here, or Catriona our President here, or Douglas our Vice President here.

Meanwhile – while you’re considering this – please make sure you’ve posted your ballot regarding the current campaign on Wages and Conditions. If you need a replacement ballot you can get one by clicking the link below.

If you have not received your papers, you can order replacements to your preferred address using this form — but you need to do so by 5pm tomorrow, Thursday 31 March. 

Don’t let the Anti Trade Union Laws silence your voice

One rule for us another for them

Between March 16th and April 8th, all UCU members have the chance to have their voice heard in the latest re-ballot over possible industrial action and action short of a strike. Don’t let undemocratic laws rob you of your voice – please return the ballot as soon as you get it.

In the 2019 general election, Overall, 229 of the 650 MPs were elected on less than 50 percent of the constituency vote – in other words, 35 percent of all MPs lack majority support.

One rule for us, another for them

UCU takes the fight against casualisation to Scotland’s Parliament

We’ve been campaigning on this locally for years

Ask your MSP to sign

Katy Clark MSP has submitted a motion on casualisation in higher education and FE in the Scottish Parliament.  The motion, which references our disputes and strike action, has been signed by Labour, SNP and Green MSPs and will now be considered for debate in the Parliament.  The more MSPs that sign the motion the more likely it is to be debated and the more attention we can draw to the use of precarious contracts in universities.  Branches are asked to contact MSPs covering their area and ask them to sign the petition. 

Here’s some draft text you possibly might like to amend and use:

Dear ___________

Aș a ______________ (describe your role at GCU), like others, I am very concerned with casualisation of the workforce which is undermining the security of our staff, giving a second class service to our students, and threatens to downgrade the quality of Scotland Higher Education and FE. I’d be very grateful if you could sign the motion on Casualisation in Higher Education and FE, which has been lodged by Katy Clarke MSP (Motion ref. S6M-03099).

As a MSP for Glasgow I’m sure you will  want to ensure the highest quality Higher and Further Education is provided by the post-16 sector in the city. Helping to eliminated casualisation is one way to do that.

Please add your support to this motion, and help get it debated.

Yours sincerely,

You can find out who your MSPs are here if you are outwith Glasgow

Contact MSPs in Glasgow

The Glasgow MSPs who it might be very relevant to contact are the following (click on the links to bring up your e-mail programme):

Kaukab Stewart (SNP) MSP for Glasgow Kelvin (GCU is in Glasgow Kelvin constituency). She has already signed the motion so you might want to commend her on this
Kaukab can also be found on twitter at: @kaukabstewart and facebook at: Kaukab’s facebook

Pam Duncan Glancey (Labour) She has already signed the motion so you might want to commend her on this
Pam can also be found on twitter at: @GlasgowPam and on facebook at: Pam’s facebook

Dr Sandesh Gulhane (Tory). Sandash can be found on twitter at: @sandeshgulhane

Patrick Harvie (Green). Patrick can also be found on Twitter at: @patrickharvie and on facebook at: Patrick’s facebook

Anas Sarwar (Labour) Anas can also be found on twitter at:@AnasSarwar and on facebook at: Anas’s facebook

Paul Sweeney (Labour) He has already signed the motion so you might want to commend him on this

Pauline McNeil (Labour)

Annie Wells (Tory) Annie can also be found on twitter at: @anniewellsmsp and on facebook at: Annie’s facebook. She can also be contacted via her website: anniewells.org.uk/contact

Local Branch to be reballoted regarding future industrial action

A meeting of the UCU Higher Education Committee has decided that all branches of UCU are to be reballoted for future possible industrial action around our wages and conditions campaign. This would allow the renewal of a mandate for strike action and action short of a strike once the original mandate ends on May 3rd.

Colleagues will know that under the anti-Trade Union legislation instigated by previous governments, in order for your vote to count over 50 percent of all members must vote by post. On both recent occasions our local branch although it registered over 40 percent voting, did not hit the 50 percent mark.

The new ballot will open on March 16th and close on April 8th, and our branch will be holding a special on-line meeting on Wednesday 16th at 11 am to consider our campaign to break over the 50 percent imposition this time.

All members should look out for an invite to the meeting from Lyle Grey our branch secretary.

Ukraine’s Universities amongst latest victims of Russia’s attack

Kharkiv University hit by a Russian missile

On Tuesday 1st March, Putin’s war on Ukraine came to the university sector, with Kharkiv University’s faculty of sociology hit by a missile, purportedly intended for the neighbouring police headquarters or interior ministry.

In a statement of solidarity, UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘The situation in Ukraine is devastating to witness and on behalf of the University and College Union I am sending best wishes and solidarity to all those affected.

‘As hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians flee their own homes from the Russian invasion, it is vital that our government removes all barriers to Ukrainian citizens coming to the UK and ensures a comprehensive package of support is available to those that arrive here. Anything less is a dereliction of duty and should be condemned as such.

Our union has made a donation to UNICEF’s emergency appeal and is demanding governments ensure all people are able to reach a place of safety.

How to re-imagine a university – our university

Imagine…… a real University for the Common Good

University in Rainbow
A real rainbow reflects the talent of our staff

Have you ever imagined……. what would happen if GCU could be re-made, and re-imagined, run and resourced in a manner that was based on the vision, outlook and understanding of its staff and students?

What would the university look like in 2030 – how would our vision of the university differ from that of GCU’s official 2030 strategy?

In short how would a university such as ours – the University for the Common Good – operate in a post-pandemic world?

Last year, the UCU in Scotland published our vision of what we believe should be the future for Higher Education in Scotland. You can download it below. We want to look at what this means for us in GCU.

Already we have seen a massive shift in the way that many staff – mostly academic – have had to work, on-line and from home. Our professional and support staff have also been affected by pandemic working in a different and often more difficult manner.

The effect of Brexit has brought about the end of Erasmus student exchanges, and is transforming the student base that we have operated with for many years. 

During the pandemic, the experience of our existing students has been turned upside down in many ways, and the whole sector is facing uncertainty – with rising inflation now looming, and the Scottish government – although much friendlier to the sector than the UK government – are looking at re-organising the college and university sector over the next few years.

Continue reading

‘Workload is the issue now’ – our AGM

Our recent AGM discussed our work in the coming year, as the university moves to more on-campus work.

Towering above the other issues was the need for university action on workload. Despite amazing efforts by all staff throughout the pandemic to keep the university going workload pressure is still far too high. Court figures the last time this was discussed revealed that GCU had the second highest student staff ratio in all of the Scottish post-92 universities. This is not for anyone’s ‘common good’ – neither the staff, the students, or indeed the university.

The university ‘new blood’ campaign to bring on more staff has had an impact in some areas, but there are still too many bottlenecks where staff are going off unwell due to the stress of their workload.

Continue reading

Please vote in the current ballot on Industrial Action

All members of UCU at GCU are currently being balloted about whether we join the industrial action on the ‘Four Fights’ dispute.


The current demands are

  • An increase of £2500 on all spine points on the national pay scale
  • nationally-agreed action, using an intersectional approach, to close the gender, ethnic and disability pay gaps
  • an agreed framework to eliminate precarious employment practices by universities
  • nationally-agreed action to address excessive workloads and unpaid work, to include workload models and Covid-related changes to working practices

It is important that you vote – due to the Tory anti-union laws, it is necessary for 50% of members to cast a vote (irrespective of how you personally vote), in order for our vote to count.

A recent General Meeting of the branch recommended that you should support both strike action and action short of a strike.

Please make sure you return your ballot paper – best before Christmas so you don’t forget.

Any issues please contact the branch secretary Lyle Gray.

That’s the first 13 days of strikes….. the next nine start next week

One of the strongest pickets yet saw a colourful and noisy celebration of our demands in front of the main gate today. After eight days in December, we’re now finishing the first five days of the second phase of action – which comprises of fourteen days more.

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.