The University and College Union is the largest union for academic and academic related staff in higher education in Scotland (and the UK). Our branch at Glasgow Caledonian University is a growing community of members who are working together to improve salaries and working conditions at GCU. We are also active on a range of activities promoting the type of education system we want and the values that go with it. Present and past activities have included campaigning successfully (together with other campus unions) against redundancy; working for better salaries, and pensions; for equality; for better governance; against zero hours/ casualised contracts; and (again with other campus unions) and with a focus on student conditions, against proposals to implement unfair resit fees. We’ve also worked with students for voter registration, and in support of their local food bank. We also work on a range of other issues such as international mental health day, international month of disabled workers, black history month, and commemorating holocaust day.
The majority of staff are in unions at GCU, and for UCU members this blog is your voice. We are not just an ‘insurance policy’ we are a community. Our mandate is to help get the best conditions for our members at GCU – and every campus or hub the university may be involved in.
But we are also about more than that – we are working to ensure the best possible education for our students. We are determined to protect the interests of Scottish education in the face of the challenges facing it – be it short sighted cuts, misguided university strategy, management speak or governments downgrading the importance of higher and further education in the Scottish economy. We are all united in our determination to improve the democratic governance of universities and you can read about our views on this elsewhere on the blog.
We hope this blog will be where you will get the facts about working at GCU and can make your voice heard. Please bookmark the web site – It’s your voice!
How the UCU works for you at Glasgow Caledonian
It is a normal thing for members of staff to be in a union. It does not threaten your job – in lots of ways it helps integrate you into the life of the university. Despite differences which may (and will) arise between unions and management – and which are understandable, and part of the democratic process – the university acknowledges the role played by unions for a healthy university community. We are officially invited to speak to new starts at induction and our details are advertised on the GCUYou portal.
There are regular meetings between the unions and the management of the university through the Joint Consultation Committee and its themed groups which meet to discuss areas in detail, and then report back to the JCC.
The JCC meetings (which take place at least once per trimester) normally consist of a representative of each of the four main unions; representatives of HR (usually Fiona Campbell); the secretary of the University – Jan Hulme; a representative of senior management – currently this is James Miller deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University; the university Finance Officer, and other representative of senior management or of the university who may be presenting papers or initiating reports. The chairing of the JCC alternates yearly between management and the unions. Currently, this year, management chairs the meetings.
Between meetings of the JCC, the unions meet together to discuss issues in the ‘Combined Union Committee’ (CUC), whose convenor is Nick McKerrell, local president of the EIS.
Much of the day to day work of the unions however, takes place place outwith these structures, when union reps (each union has reps – often based at school or departmental level) give advice to members or take up ‘personal cases’ on members behalf, with local management, senior management or HR. Our union also have members who specialise in various areas such as Health and Safety, or Equality and Diversity.
To contact the editor of this blog, e-mail us anytime at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos of our activity is found on the joint union Flickr account at: : http://www.flickr.com/photos/caledonianunion/
We hope to have a presence soon on Facebook as well.