Category Archives: EIS

Thanks for your support on strike day 1!

Tent1Local UCU president Douglas Chalmers writes:

Although there was no doubt about the serious issues at stake, there was a carnival atmosphere on the picket line at GCU today, with inflatable balloons representing the gender pay gap, cupcakes, music, plus our usual gazebo, and of course, our incredibly talented members.

Cupcakes comparison (larger ones for males, smaller for females - like our salaries)

Cupcakes comparison (larger ones for males, smaller for females – like our salaries)

In what was acknowledged as the best turn out in recent disputes, all the gates were covered, including incoming vehicles whose drivers were spoken to.

Making the point on the gender pay gap

Making the point on the gender pay gap

We got tremendous support from other unions, including speakers at our gate side rally, and also support from the officers of the Students Association.

Reps of the GCU Students Association joined our picket line and spoke at our gate-side rally

Reps of the GCU Students Association joined our picket line and spoke at our gate-side rally

Members of the UCU Postgrad community were also out arguing for the end of casualised contracts.

A growing number of postgrads have joined UCU recently at GCU

A growing number of postgrads have joined UCU recently at GCU

A member of the GCU security team was sent down to speak to us following a ‘phone call from the Britannia Building’ informing us that  “if we didn’t turn the music down ‘the polis would be called.”

Fortunately better sense prevailed and no polis appeared, (but with  that the chance for a brilliant photo-shoot also disappeared).

More welcome on the picket line however, was one of the chefs from the kitchen delivering hot rolls commissioned and paid for by Unison@GCU.

The hot rolls arrived courtesy of Unison

The hot rolls arrived courtesy of Unison@GCU

The picnic atmosphere continued

The picnic atmosphere continued

Passing cars signalled their support and were acknowledged by our picketers

Car supporters were always acknowledged

Car supporters were always acknowledged

and following the end of activities at noon, there was a sizeable contingent from GCU UCU who joined staff from Glasgow university, Strathclyde, College of Art, and UWS. Speakers at the rally were myself for UCU Scotland, Helen Martin from the STUC, Rob Henthorne from NUS Scotland, Anna Ritchie-Allan from Close the Gap. Messages of support were also sent from Unite, EIS and others.

A well attended rally at Adelaides discussed the issues

A well attended rally at Adelaides discussed the issues

A new generation of pickets has been born…..

Scooter picket was a prominent supporter

Scooter picket was a prominent supporter

Adelaide’s was packed…

Adelaide needed more chairs added

We needed more chairs at Adelaide

Carnival3

The weather kept up

The sun even came out for us

The sun even came out for us – and scooters

And it was a great atmosphere all round.

GatesIn the next couple of days, a fuller photo record will be put up on our Flickr site

Countdown to marking boycott on April 28th

Layout 1UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt has written to members to confirm that a date has been set for members to begin an assessment boycott in the current pay dispute.

She wrote: ‘The Higher Education Committee met to review the current dispute and agree next steps. It was noted that members had already taken substantial industrial action in the campaign for fair pay and that in the continued absence of any movement from the employers, further escalated action would be necessary.

‘Having examined assessment timetables, HEC therefore confirmed the implementation of a marking boycott with effect from Monday 28 April.

‘This is a serious but unavoidable step for which the union will need to fully prepare members.

‘HEC therefore agreed that between now and 28 April the union should prioritise working with branches to maximise the impact of a marking boycott, including in the minority of institutions where most assessment has already been done.

‘This will include branch meetings to discuss the marking sanction, joint union meetings, early discussions with local students’ unions and continued campaigning activity including a focus on VC/Principals’ pay and perks.’

She added that UCU will also begin ‘detailed discussions with our colleagues in the National Union of Students (NUS) on the impact and practicalities of a marking boycott.

‘It was therefore agreed,’ she said, ‘that our current claims which set out the case for fair pay and equality in HE be continued in any new negotiations until its terms are met. This is the position we will suggest to the other HE unions. No member I have spoken to wishes to see this dispute escalate, but in the continued absence of meaningful negotiations this is our only alternative. Even now the timetable HEC has set provides a window of opportunity for the employers to address our just demands, which I hope they take’.

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.

GCU Unions call for show of solidarity on Strike day Thursday 6th Feb

Unions at GCU have asked staff to turn out in strength on next strike day 6th February to show our determination that we win Fair Pay for all.

It will also be to show solidarity with UCU members who are still under the cloud of a threat to withdraw full days wages for their series of two hour strikes.

Said Douglas Chalmers, President of UCU@GCU – “Just over 30 of the 149 universities who are taking part in national bargaining have levied this threat to withdraw a days wage from staff who carried out a series of lawfully constituted two-hour strikes. If proceeded with, it would show a total disrespect for the staff who have limited their action to minimise disruption to students, and would be a totally unnecessary ramping up of the dispute at a local level. ”

The joint unions announced a rally at the University front gate at 10.45 on Thursday morning.

GCU University unions move towards strike action 3rd December

UCU, Unison and Unite members out in force

UCU, Unison and Unite members out in force

Following the failure of the University and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) to offer an increased pay offer to university staff, Glasgow Caledonian University unions will be joining their colleagues throughout Scotland and South of the border in a further day’s strike on Tuesday 3rd December.

October 31st saw a tremendous turnout from staff from three of the four university unions, now to be joined by EIS on December 3rd.

Why we are in dispute

Universities are central to a modern forward looking society, but increasingly staff working within them are seeing their living standards being cut, at a time when universities have adequate reserves to pay decent salaries, and when principals are continuing to accept massive salary increases.

Comparative figures between 2009 and 2012 show that in this period, the median pay for full time and casualised staff working as Higher Education teaching professionals has decreased by 2.27 percent in absolute terms to a median wage of £39,414. Over the same period, inflation has increased the cost of living by a cumulative 15.5 percent.

Higher education teaching professionals are still paid significantly below comparably skilled professionals, including legal professional workers, marketing and sales directors, train and tram drivers, human resource managers and directors, IT specialist managers, health professionals, and police officers (sergeant and below).

For a professional service to our students and to our communities, university employers need to ensure their staff are paid a professional salary.

That’s why we will be on strike on December 3rd.

Comparative Scottish Salaries for Univerisity Principals

Comparative Scottish Salaries for Univerisity Principals

Caledonian Unions say – vote for Douglas Chalmers for GCU Court

The combined union committee comprising of UCU, EIS, Unison and Unite, have asked their members to vote for Douglas Chalmers for the vacant academic staff position on Court,  in the elections this Thursday 13th June.

This follows the news that Davena Rankin was elected unopposed as Support Staff representative.

Thursday’s voting comes at a time when the Scottish government are expected to implement the findings of the commission into HE governance chaired by Professor Ferdinand Von Prondzynski which reported earlier in the year. This was extremely critical of the current functioning of existing university Court structures and called for widespread reform.

Following this, the existing chairs of Court set up their own commission to draw up a code of conduct – a process which however excluded direct involvement of staff and student voice on their commission, in direct contradiction of the suggestions of Education minister Mike Russell. These court-led meetings were generally perceived to be shambolic – with no minutes taken and a widespread perception existing that this was essentially an undemocratic manoeuvre taken by the existing power structures within university courts, to defend their privileged nature.

Douglas is for radical change in the way the Courts operate.

Said Douglas Chalmers: “I am fully behind the implementation of the suggested reforms to Court functioning and governance. I have a proven track record of arguing for Courts to be more open to the voice of all staff and indeed the whole university community. I believe the chairs should be elected, the gender balance should be improved, the minutes published, and the presumption should be openness rather than the reverse. I hope all academic colleagues will support me in pushing for our university to follow in the direction of radical change and to become a beacon of good practice”.

A short interview with Douglas on some of the relevant issues can be found here.

Remember Thursday 13th June: Vote Douglas Chalmers for Academic Staff Representative.

Holyrood Education Committee Must Oppose Pensions Increase say EIS

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) – the country’s largest teaching union which represents 80% of teachers and lecturers – has today urged the Members of the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee to oppose the Scottish Government’s desire to impose a further increase in the pension contributions paid by the country’s teachers and lecturers.  EIS members have been writing to each member of the Committee, highlighting the negative impact on the living standards and morale of Scotland’s teaching workforce should the Scottish Government push ahead with the planned imposition.

Speaking ahead of the Committee meeting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, “The additional increase in teachers’ and lecturers’ pension contributions that the Scottish Government intends to impose is, in reality, an additional tax on teaching professionals – not one penny of this cash-grab will go into teachers’ or lecturers’ pensions. It is shameful that a Scottish Government which claims to oppose the UK Government’s austerity drive and continuing attacks on public sector workers should choose to meekly replicate this coalition-designed teacher tax in Scotland.”

Mr Flanagan continued, “The 1.2% increase in pension contributions – higher than the capped pay increase of 1% currently on offer to public sector workers – will result in yet another real-terms pay cut for hard-pressed teachers and lecturers this year.  This latest increase would push the average pension contribution deduction from teaching staff to almost 9% of their pay.  As inflation continues to push the cost of living to record levels, another year of pay decline will be unacceptable to Scotland’s dedicated teaching professionals.”

Welcoming a Motion to reject the pension increase, to be introduced to the Committee today by the Deputy Convener Neil Findlay, Mr Flanagan added, “The EIS would like to thank Mr Findlay for bringing this important issue before the Committee.  We would urge all Members of the Committee to vote in good conscience today to protect Scottish education, and support the proposal to overturn this damaging additional tax on Scotland’s hard-working teaching professionals.”