Category Archives: Combined Union Committee

Education Minister wants our views on running GCU

Angela Constance Cabinet Secretary for Education

Angela Constance Cabinet Secretary for Education

Angela Constance, the Cabinet Secretary for Education in the Scottish Government is interested in your views on how GCU, and other universities are governed.

All university campus unions are in favour of democratising higher education governance and will be making sure their members’ voices are heard in this debate.

We want open elections for chairs of governing bodies, transparency over principals’ pay, a new agreed definition of academic freedom and for governing bodies to be more representative.

In an article in the Herald on 15th January, Mary Senior, UCU Scotland’s official referred to the consultation and forthcoming bill as: ‘a once in a generation opportunity to sort out transparency in Scotland’s universities’

On Monday 26th between 12 and 2pm, the UCU@GCU will be holding a stall in the Hamish Wood foyer allowing staff and students to sign postcards to support change in this sector.

If you are a UCU member there is also a downloadable A3 Poster  and A5 Postcard you can use to express your support for the campaign.

Meanwhile the UCU have launched a petition asking their members to record their support for change. You can sign it here.

UCU has also uploaded all the necessary information to contribute individually to the consultation here.

Don’t miss this chance – please make sure your voice is heard.

As well as individual union activity, the GCU Combined Union Committee will be considering a joint submission to both our own Court (before it puts in the university’s ‘corporate’ view), and to the Scottish government. If you have any points on this, please contact either your individual union or Nick McKerral, chair of the CUC.

 

 

 

 

GCU Union and management joint statement published

7532999776_eb4057734e_zToday, for the first time, the unions and management at Glasgow Caledonian University have jointly published an assessment of the past years work and our priorities for the coming year.

Available via a link in the Caledonian Connected or downloadable from here, the statement outlines the achievements of 2013-2014 and looks forward to joint work together to agree a number of outstanding issues for 2015, which include: issues raised by the staff survey, and from the management focussed ‘Peoples Passport‘ sessions (which Trade Union reps addressed); monitoring and refining the tariffs from the pilot Work Allocation Model; and the regularisation of staff on casual contracts and adopting a sustainable approach to the employment of casual staff.

The joint GCU unions have welcomed this approach and look forward to further constructive developments in this coming year.

 

Joint statement agreed between GCU Unions and management on past year’s work and future priorities

The university unions and GCU management have for the first time adopted a joint assessment of the past year’s work. This has been published in the form of a joint chairs’ statement from Douglas Chalmers, current chair of the Joint Consultative Committee, and Jan Hulme, University Secretary. This was adopted after several discussions at the JCC and is one of the outcomes that emerged from the commissioning of an independent report ‘Building better relationships – a way forward for Glasgow Caledonian University and its trade unions’, which was written by Nita Clarke of the IPA in 2014.

One of the suggestions of Clarke’s report, which was cautiously welcomed by both unions and management, was that: ‘The work of the JCC should be positively, proactively and jointly communicated by the unions and GCU to the wider university community‘. Another was that: ‘At the heart of agreed behaviours should be a firm agreement on a no-surprise approach, with both sides committing to mutual discussion in good time and the earliest possible sharing of information‘.

Unions also particularly welcomed the proposal that: ‘Union representation should be considered a mark of status and representatives recognised particularly at departmental level for their contribution to the smoother running of university life.

Within the framework of the new approach suggested by Clarke, there has been an acknowledged improvement in the relationship between unions and management, and the approach to solving issues of difference. This is despite the fact that it was also a time when several periods of industrial action took place.

It is envisaged that the joint statement from the chairs of the JCC will be published simultaneously early in 2015, in Caledonian Connected, on the Staff Portal, and on this blog.

GCU Trade Unions send congratulations to students for active elections

Trade Unions at GCU today sent greetings to the GCU students who are nearing the end of their elections for their local student association officers, and pledged to continue to work with the new officers in the interests of the staff, students and the wider University.

“We are really pleased to see what appears to be such a vigorous campaign involving the maximum of students – we look forward with interest to the outcome, and to working together in the next period as we have in the past.  Students have benefited from the support of trade unions here, who have consistently argued for better resources to be put at their disposal.

We are also very grateful for the consistent support in our current campaign for fair pay on campus. We are sure that it has been pressure from students throughout the UK, as well as from staff industrial action that has made the employers agree to talk to staff again about pay at a UK level. We hope that students will keep up their support and pressure, so that it will not be necessary for staff to undertake a future marking boycott – which may be the only resort left to us  if the employers do not act responsibly.  We believe by working together, staff and students can ensure that a sensible and quick end to this dispute can be achieved. Thank you again for your support”

Co-hosting a divisive speech by the Prime Minister – a misreading of our role in society say GCU Unions

Glasgow Caledonian, not Glasgow Cameronian University

Glasgow Caledonian, not Glasgow Cameronian University

Campus trade unions expressed their extreme concern today at the University’s decision to co-host an event  in the London Velodrome together with the British government, where David Cameron used his office as Prime minister to set out his case against independence. Widely trailed on the BBC and other broadcasters the day before as a major intervention by the Prime Minister into the independence debate, Court members were only informed the night before the event,  that the speech – promoted as a ‘business development’ opportunity – would even take place.

Following public criticism of the university’s action by social media commentators Derek Bateman and from pro independence website NewsnetScotland, the GCU student VP Education and the Daily Record, the university subsequently issued a statement explaining its actions, including its inability to give notice due to ‘an embargo imposed by the Prime Minister’s office in the light of security issues’

According to the Campus Unions who issued the attached statement today, they had been ‘inundated with messages of disbelief’ from members of staff’ about the decision to co-host the event. Amongst the points made by the joint unions were: ‘This was not an academic seminar on the benefits held on the University Campus. This was not a debate on the upcoming referendum. This was David Cameron MP setting out his case against independence using his office as Prime Minister – the speech was published by the Cabinet Office’. 

The statement goes on to say: ‘Independence is a contentious issue in Scotland. Amongst the unions and workers at Glasgow Caledonian University there are mixed views on how people should vote in September. One of our unions, the UCU actually organised a debate amongst their members on the referendum this week.’

The campus unions have put a number of questions to university management regarding the decision to co-host this event, and the prominent use of the university image. They have also sought more information on the ‘Global Leadership Seminars’ and their future, and also on the associated costs of the Velodrome event.

In a communication to the joint unions, the university’s head of communications Charles McGhee has re-iterated that ‘The University has publicly stated that it will continue to maintain a neutral stance on the referendum and other political issues. However, GCU encourages open and robust debate on a wide range of issues and sees it as part of its role to help facilitate such discussions’.

The combined unions and the staff they represent will be watching this space closely to see exactly how such discussion facilitation will proceed in the immediate future in order to regain the perception that Glasgow Caledonian does take a neutral stance – something which would not be the public view at the moment.

Balloons and bacon rolls keep spirits high on GCU picket line

Helium filled balloons supplied by UCU and bacon filled rolls supplied by Unison helped make the joint picket by university unions UCU, EIS, Unison and Unite on 6th February the most successful yet in the series of actions in favour of Fair Pay at Glasgow Caledonian.
In some ways this was the best organised of the actions so far, with posters informing the students of impending action having been put up on previous days, and a specially prepared leaflet featuring an appeal from each union given out to students on the day.

United for Fair Pay

United for Fair Pay

Determined to win our action

Determined to win our action

Union reps indicated more reports of alterations to and cancellations of classes than had happened at previous actions.
Even the worst of the weather stayed off, although spectacularly, mid way through the picket, the wind put an end to the gazebo which had played such a helpful role in the previous disputes!
Pickets were out on all of the main entrances to the university with several delivery vans turning away after reading our leaflet, and many passing cars honking their approval of the action.

Applause for a particularly witty point

Applause for a particularly witty point

At a brief rally at 10.45 chaired by joint Union Convenor and EIS rep Nick McKerrell, Sinead Wylie brought the greetings and support of the Students Association, followed by Unison rep Davena Rankin and UCU rep Douglas Chalmers who spoke on behalf of their unions. Nick McKerrell closed the rally, pointing out that this had been a great example of the type of joint activity that the four unions at Glasgow Caledonian continued to do together very well.
Following the rally, 100 of the helium balloons were released on a count of three to cheering before we dispersed, having shown once again the depth of feeling amongst staff that GCU should pressurise UCEA to come back to the negotiating table.

Sinead from the students association nearly carried away

Sinead from the students association nearly carried away

PS the joint unions have already been offered another 3 gazebos to take the place of the one that lost its battle with the Glasgow weather.

University Union slams ‘Elite University Bosses’

Unite the Union, one of the unions representing staff at Glasgow Caledonian today slammed what they called ‘Elite University Bosses’ at the Russell Group of Universities – which in Scotland includes Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and St Andrews universities.  Glasgow Caledonian University is not a member of this group – being a member, instead of the Alliance group of universities.

Unite condemned Vice chancellors at the elite Russell Group of universities for ‘rank hypocrisy’ for pocketing big pay rises, while trying to enforce a one per cent pay rise on staff.
Unite was commenting as a Times Higher Education (THE) survey of 19 of the group’s 24 members revealed that the average vice chancellor salary in the group increased by just over £22,000 to nearly £293,000 in 2012-13.
Chair of the Unite national education committee Haydn Morris said: “This smacks of rank hypocrisy, given that university staff have endured a six-year pay drought which has seen a 13 per cent cut in pay in real terms since 2008.
“On the day that the cost of living crisis has again been highlighted by the leap in rail fares, the university bosses are lining their own substantial pockets, while those staff that keep Britain in the top ten world university league table struggle to make ends meet.
“The ‘them and us’ situation is made worse as the cumulative operating surplus in the higher education sector is now over £1 billion.  Cash rich universities could well afford to be more generous than the one per cent offer currently on the table.”
The university trade unions took two days of strike action last year in pursuit of a better pay deal and it is likely that more industrial action will be on the cards in 2014.
According to the THE, once pension payments are taken into consideration, the Russell Group vice chancellors received an average of £318,500 last year – up from £302,500 in 2011-12 which means an average salary rise of 8.1 per cent and a 5.2 per cent rise in overall benefits.
Unite’s university membership embraces science technicians, administrators and facilities management staff and has about 20,000 members in higher education.

Although GCU is not a member of the Russell Group, Dr Nick McKerrall, on behalf of the Combined Unions of the GCU recently drew attention to the disproportionate situation of excessive pay for senior management which is also the case in non Russell Group universities.