Category Archives: UCU

UCU members now working to contract throughout UK

Work to contract_lunchFollowing up from our last two blog posts reporting on local action including the excellent Glasgow media coverage, the UCU has a page reporting all the activity https://www.ucu.org.uk/UCU-HE-strike-live

And now we move to action short of a strike by working to contracthttps://www.ucu.org.uk/heactionfaqs sets this out as:

  • performing no additional voluntary duties, such as out of hours cover, covering for colleagues (unless such cover is contractually required), or attending open days etc.
  • setting and marking no work beyond that work which you are contractually obliged to set and/or mark or which you are competent to do
  • attend no meetings where such attendance is voluntary on your part
  • undertake no duties that breach statutory guidance, health and safety policies or other significant employer’s policies.

Hours of Work
UCU has told GCU management that we have called ‘action short of a strike’ in the form of ‘not working in excess of the maximum number of hours stipulated in the affected employees’ contract of employment, or, where no maximum number of hours is stipulated, 37 hours per week (or such lesser number of hours as the case may be).’

What this means is that you should work no more than the maximum number of hours stipulated in your contract, or, where the contract is silent on the maximum number of hours, 37 hours in any normal working week. In a shorter working week, eg, a week in which there is a bank holiday, or you are on strike or lawfully at work for less than a week (eg, you are on holiday or you work a fraction of a full time post) the union asks that you work the appropriate fraction of the normal working week. Read more at https://www.ucu.org.uk/heactionfaqs

External Examining
UCU is appealing to members to resign positions as External Examiners – there is a collective letter in the Guardian that members might wish to read:
http://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/may/26/why-we-are-resigning-as-external-examiners, again the FAQ has more details. https://www.ucu.org.uk/heaction_externalexaminers

As ever, UCU@GCU will be encouraging members to take lunch breaks, leave on time and reclaim the weekend. It’s a bank holiday weekend coming up and the forecast is for sun, so perhaps you can make a start on the weeding or simply pot up some basil seeds for your windowsill. There’s plenty of outdoor activities going on around the Glasgow area as well as theatre, exhibitions and events, including the Southside Fringe Festival.  You can start planning your weekends from here: http://www.whatsonglasgow.co.uk/  Use the #fairpayinhe twitter hashtag to keep us up to date with what you’re doing instead of working all those extra hours you always do.

Members may find this page useful as a clear statement of the issues in our current dispute https://www.ucu.org.uk/fair-deal-for-HE

Thanks again for the support for your union, your colleagues and the future of HE

Second day of successful industrial action

Staff believe in the common good - but this means their concerns need taken seriously

UCU members  believe in the common good – but this means staff concerns need taken seriously

Starting with Dolly Parton’s ‘Nine to Five’ – surely a workload issue – and finishing rather ironically with Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York,’ our spotify playlist (entitled IndustrialAction2016) provided a very suitable backdrop to the varied discussions we held on the picket line on day 2 of our current industrial action. Focussing today on casualised contracts, our helium balloons targeted zero hours and again got an appreciative response from passing cars.

Zero second version

Pickets as they began to arrive were welcomed with ‘No to Zero’ demands

Despite it being the second consecutive day of action, the picket was again well attended and by 9 a.m. covered both main gates.

Early buildup2

Our postgrad members were very active again from early morning.

Postgradcrop

Again our postgrads were clear on the need to end casualised contracts

One of the discussions on the picket line was of course whether or not the current offer made by UCEA was reasonable. An ‘unscientific’ snap poll was held on union members’ views. They preferred not to vocalise their opinions, but your intrepid reporter was held in no doubt……

IMG_6992

Asked what they thought of the 1.1% ‘offer’ their unvoiced opinions weren’t hard to discern..

We were pleased to welcome Natalie as a new member of UCU. A PhD student at GCU, she baulked at the idea of crossing a picket line, so solved the problem by joining on the spot – then staying to support us.

Welcome Natalie - one of several to join during the industrial action

Welcome to Natalie – one of several to join during the industrial action

As editions of the Glasgow Herald, and then the Evening Times hit the picket line we were also glad to see that our VP Catriona Mowat, had made the front page of the Herald, and our President Douglas Chalmers (talking as President of UCU Scotland), had also featured prominently in the Evening Times.

Catriona 3

Fantastic Front page coverage for our VP UCU@GCU

And in the Evening Times:

Douglas in Evening Times

Douglas has pledged to get a union t-shirt in future in an effort to move from page 5 to page 1 in the printed press.

At the end of the picket, a spokesperson from the branch committee thanked all those attending, and reminded everyone that the UCU would be issuing guidelines to members about their ‘working to contract’ position, which was now operative from the 25th May.

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

Support our industrial action 25th and 26th May

UCU@GCU will be picketing across campus on both strike days 25th and 26th May – if you want to take part in the picket, please come to the main gate  from 7.00am. There will be a rally in Adelaides, Bath Street 12noon on Wednesday 25 May 2016 for Glasgow UCU branches. We hope to see lots of colleagues on the picket and at the rally. Speakers at the rally will address gender pay gap and casualization in particular.

We cannot send this message to all staff but would encourage members to forward this message on so that our reasons for taking action are clear to all colleagues.

  • No UCU member takes action lightly but since 2009, the cumulative loss to our pay (compared to rises in RPI) is 14.5%.
  • Despite it being 50 years since the Equal Pay Act, the continuing gender pay gap in UK higher education is shameful – the total gender pay gap currently stands at a staggering £528 million.
  • The latest reported figures from HESA showed that the sector has over £1 billion in operating surpluses – the historic attack on our salaries has reduced the proportion that the sector as a whole spends on staff. According to HESA data, in 2013/14, universities committed only 55.4% of their expenditure to staff, compared with 58.3% in 2004/5.
  • Widespread casualisation in the sector impacts on all staff terms and conditions and the rate of pay – according to HESA , there are 75,000 staff on highly casualised ‘atypical’ academic contracts
  • National Insurance and pension contributions have both increased as our rate of pay has decreased.

We are asking for  a fair rate for the job– that job that has seen increased workload, more management targets and divisive performance management schemes. It is staff that deliver the excellent research and teaching and we are worth investing in. You can read more about the HE2016 action here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/he2016

STRIKE ACTION UPDATE

A message from Douglas Chalmers, President UCU@GCU:

Picket 2You will have seen the message from Sally Hunt with the HE ballot result and the confirmed dates for strike action 25th and 26th May. This will be followed by members working to contract with effect from 25/05/2016. Full guidance will be issued this week on what you should and should not do.

  • No UCU member takes action lightly but since 2009, the cumulative loss to our pay (compared to rises in RPI) is 14.5%.
  • Despite it being 50 years since the Equal Pay Act, the continuing gender pay gap in UK higher education is shameful – the total gender pay gap currently stands at a staggering £528 million. Even at GCU, which is not the worst offender, the recent analysis of basic pay was able to show the overall pay gap favouring males was the following in each category: Campus services 24.7%, Academic 8.2%, Professional and Admin support 6.0%, Technical 5.0%, Senior managers (academic) 10.6%. 
    Only in the Senior Managers (Executive) and Senior Managers (Professional Support) was the gender gap in favour of females
  • The latest reported figures from HESA showed that the sector has over £1 billion in operating surpluses.
  • Widespread casualisation in the sector impacts on all staff terms and conditions and the rate of pay – according to HESA , there are 75,000 staff on highly casualised ‘atypical’ academic contracts.

We are asking for  a fair rate for the job – that job that has seen increased workload, more management targets and divisive performance management schemes. It is staff that deliver the excellent research and teaching and we are worth investing in. You can read more about the HE2016 action here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/he2016

UCU will be picketing across campus on both strike days  – look out for more information on how you can join in. Don’t forget to follow us on twitter @GCU_UCU

Prevent Prevent campaign continues

Dissent Prevent v1a

The UCU have continued to campaign against the UK government’s ill thought out and divisive ‘Prevent’ strategy which seeks to turn academic and support staff into snoopers who monitor students for signs of ‘extremism.’

Having been a part of the English educational scene for several years, the Home Office decided last year that it should also be applied to Scotland, including Scotland’s universities. They instructed the Scottish government to apply a version of their UK policy north of the border, and the result is a set of guidelines, which quite frankly neither the Scottish government nor it seems, the Scottish universities are happy with, but which have been applied to higher education in Scotland, and in even stricter form to further education in Scotland

Douglas Chalmers. UCU Scotland president represented the union at the Islamophobia 2015 conference in Edinburgh

Douglas Chalmers. UCU Scotland president represented the union at the Islamophobia 2015 conference

The ‘Prevent’ guidance which has been issued to all universities and colleges (and which can be downloaded here), raises the expectation that university staff will now be expected to monitor students for signs of ‘extremism’ one part of which is that they do not display support for a very loosely defined set of ‘British values.’

This has already led to the ridiculous situation in some English universities, of muslim students being questioned on their views because they have been seen reading (set) textbooks on global terrorism and security – despite this being the postgraduate course they are studying.

The UCU has supported the "Students not Suspects' tour when it visited Scotland

The UCU has supported the “Students not Suspects’ tour when it visited Scotland

The UCU has drawn up a set of guidelines for staff which can be downloaded here. NUS has also produced some useful guidance here.  The branch at GCU have produced our own broadsheet on the issue.  We will also continue to support the ‘students not suspects’ initiatives, and campaign to get the prevent measures scrapped.

Postgraduate network launched

Postgrad imageA union network for postgraduates at Glasgow Caledonian has been launched, with an inaugural meeting on campus on Thursday 28th May.

Organised by Ewan Kerr, UCU postgrad rep, the meeting discussed the general situation of postgrads in the different Schools of the university and the issues the union needed to take up on their behalf. Amongst the topics discussed were teaching expectations, (lack of) adequate teacher training, pay rates, and communication within the grad school.

Douglas Chalmers, local branch president, Lena Wanggren UCU postgrad organiser from Edinburgh university, and Catriona Mowat, local VP, and organiser of the recently launched GCU women’s Facebook page for the branch also took part in the discussion.

A facegroup page for UCU postgrads has just been launched which members are encouraged to join – search out GCU UCU Postgrad Community on FB.