Douglas Chalmers pledged future work together with the Students Association
Local UCU branch president Douglas Chalmers, brought the greetings of the union to the local launch of the GCU students association food bank on 2nd March. Earlier the event had heard a moving speech from Denis Curran one of the coordinators of the loaves and fishes food bank, which amongst other things provides a sit down meal for forty people twice a week in a Glasgow church. Talking of young people who go to sleep hungry, wake up hungry and go to school hungry, Denis pointed out that for some of them the horizon of a university is subordinate to just managing to get by in their families.
The UCU had donated 50 bags of groceries and toiletries to the event, and Douglas talked of how the UCU branch saw work like this as part of their activity within a wider university community of staff and students, where the university meant more than just a business model.
Already the branch had cooperated with the Students Association on a register to vote initiative earlier in the year, and Douglas confirmed they were open to further suggestions for practical work together in the future.
Using strike time positively to help student understanding of contemporary issues
Monday 10th February’s 2 hour strike will be used imaginatively by UCU members to host a debate on the issues raised by the forthcoming referendum. Although the UCU’s position is neutral on the outcome of the referendum, save for values and policies they demand are upheld whatever the outcome – as seen in their manifesto, it was suggested that it could be useful to explore the various options.
It is expected that the GCU trade unions will discuss the implications of this for the reputation and standing of the university with management in the coming days.
Meanwhile please attend our ‘Teach-out’ in the Students Association building, and also – if you are a student, the GCU Students Association referendum-themed panel discussion focusing on education and youth employment on Thursday 20th February (more info and sign up here)
Please support the UCU strike 9 – 11 am Monday 10th November, and attend the ‘Teach-out’ in the Students association building from 10am till 11am.
The Executive Committee of the GCU Students association today issued a statement in support of the continuing action by lecturers for Fair Pay.
In a statement on their blog they said:
“The Students’ Association Executive Committee (Full time officers) believe fair pay is crucial in improving the student experience by ensuring the University attracts excellent staff who are happy and motivated in their roles; providing them with good working conditions is vital for maintaining a healthy workforce.
This has a direct impact on students as staff who are under-appreciated and over-worked are less likely to function well and more likely to fall victim to stress or other illnesses. Both of these consequences are more likely to have a disruptive and detrimental impact on student learning than an isolated day of strike action.
The Executive Committee have taken the following position:
‘The Executive Committee supports the industrial action by campus trade unions, on the condition that they engage with students and commit to examining alternative forms of industrial action that focus more on disrupting the institution and not students [as NUS Scotland are doing nationally], and that the Executive Committee seek the views of the wider student body at the next meeting of Student Voice to determine the position of GCU Students’ Association in terms of any future industrial action [i.e., that takes place after Student Voice]’”.
Said Douglas Chalmers, President of the UCU@GCU: “We are very grateful for the continuing support of the students, in a difficult time, and we hope that with enough pressure from staff and students alike throughout the country, we can come to a sensible and quick conclusion to this action – on the basis of a fair pay settlement”
The students’ full statement can be found on their blog here
Meanwhile, staff are preparing for an additional extended break in the Students Bistro, today from 2pm till 4pm during part of which local unison member Eddie McKean will donate his lunch break to doing a session of standup comedy for staff and students…. watch this space.
Following the misleading announcement by HR that current pay negotiations are ‘concluded’ the Combined Unions at Glasgow Caledonian issued the following statement to members today:
You will have seen the email from the head of HR regarding the ongoing industrial dispute which four trade unions (EIS, UCU, UNISON and UNITE) and the decision of management at GCU to impose 1%.
This gives a misleading picture of the situation by stating “the 2013-14 pay round is concluded”. This is NOT the case – even UCEA (the employers organisation) have stated this week “The UCEA Board is naturally disappointed that we have not been able to secure a New JNCHES settlement or conclusion in 2013-14” (Letter of 18th December 2013)
GCU along with many other HE institutions have decided to impose the meagre 1% rather than negotiate with the trade unions over fair pay in HE. Our pay has faced a 13% cut over the last 5 years whereas University management have had a jet set lifestyle with inflation busting increases to their already hefty salaries.
At our own institution the recently published accounts show that our Principal’s salary increased from £239,000 to £264,000 (page 24) and the number of staff employed by GCU earning over £70,000 grew from 44-52 (p25) – In 2005 only 13 people earned over £70,000 at GCU.
You can see details in the annual financial report here.
Also, comparable institutions to GCU like University of the West of Scotland and Robert Gordon’s have given a one-off bonus alongside the imposition of 1% – unfortunately our employers have not shared any Christmas cheer with us.
So our dispute goes on after two successful strike days in 2013 which garnered support from our own Students’ Association at GCU. It has been a long hard working year and we all deserve a break but we also deserve fair pay and engaging with this dispute will ensure we get it.
Have a relaxing break and a successful 2014!
Dr Nick McKerrell Convenor of Glasgow Caledonian Combined Union Committee.
This dispute certainly isn’t concluded yet, in anyone’s terms
In an extremely surprising e-mail today university management at Glasgow Caledonian seem to have accepted the suggestion of the university employers representatives UCEA that the pay round has been ‘concluded’ and following this have decided to impose the sub inflation ‘rise’ of 1 percent on staff salaries.
An email to all GCU staff reads that: “The university employers’ representative, UCEA (University and College Employers Association), negotiate the national pay settlement with the staff unions on behalf of employers. UCEA have now advised universities that the 2013-14 pay round is concluded and that participating institutions should implement the 1 % pay award.”
Even a brief on-line search (which we have provided above for the benefit of HR) would indicate that the use of the word ‘conclude’ is not merited here.
Very recently the Principal of UWS who authorised a one-off Christmas bonus to staff (as did the Principal of Robert Gordon university) approached the same issue by saying:
“I have, ….. asked that the University proceed with payment of the 1% uplift offered through those negotiations in December’s salaries, inclusive of back pay. This step should not be seen as undermining the national approach but as an action which seeks to balance the University’s commitment to the joint negotiating arrangements with a genuine concern for all staff You will appreciate that in putting these measures in place the University is seeking to do all that it can to acknowledge the dedication of colleagues and your evident commitment to the future development of the University.”
The staff unions at Glasgow Caledonian together with the Students Association believe that university staff continue to have a valid case. Industrial action is still continuing and will increase in the coming months of the New Year.
Following the lead of UWS, Robert Gordon University, has also decided to embrace the spirit of Christmas and pay its staff a bonus “to recognise the contribution of staff to another very successful period covering the financial year 2012-13”
The e-mail to all staff from their Principal is below. We’re still hoping for a change of mind from our management and a recognition of our current staff contribution at GCU………
From: Ferdinand von Prondzynski
Date: 15 December 2013 23:59:36 GMT
To: Staff – All
Subject: Recognition payment
Dear colleagues One of the key strategic objectives of RGU at the current time is to look at ways in which the university’s staff can share in its financial successes, particularly where any success exceeds our targets. We will be working on a framework for this over the coming year, and you will hear more about it in due course.
In the meantime, however, the university is keen to recognise the contribution of staff to another very successful period covering the financial year 2012-13, during which we finalised the new strategic plan and moved ahead swiftly with its implementation. We propose to recognise this with a one-off non-consolidated and non-pensionable payment. This will be calculated at 1% of FTE salary at 31 July 2013, with a minimum payment of £250 and a maximum payment of £570. All payments will be pro rata for part-time staff. The minimum and maximum payments ensure that our lowest paid staff have a meaningful payment and senior managers receive no more than our highest ‘main grade’ staff. This recognition payment will be made to all staff who were in post for at least three months during that period (1 August 2012 – 31 July 2013) and are still in post when the payment is made (or have not resigned in the meantime). I expect that this will be paid in February – you will hear more in due course.
I am hugely grateful to RGU staff for all your hard work and your commitment to RGU. I know that this payment is not huge, but I hope you will see that it does nevertheless reflect our overall reward strategy and our genuine desire to recognise the contribution our staff make to the university’s success.
Unlike Dicken’s Christmas Carol, there’s no change of heart from GCU management
GCU management confirmed to unions yesterday that they had no plans to follow the example of the University of the West of Scotland, which had issued a Christmas payment of £250 pro rata to all core staff, in recognition of ‘the very significant and positive achievements of colleagues in delivering excellence across the University’
Meanwhile a report in the Times Higher Education reported that two London University leaders have chosen not to accept large pay rises as ‘national unrest over a 1 per cent pay offer for rank-and-file staff continues.’ Unions in Scotland have already raised the issue of Principals’ pay on previous occasions.
According to the Times Simon Gaskell, principal of Queen Mary University of London, is to donate a £50,000 pay rise to a scholarship fund at his institution, while City University London vice-chancellor Paul Curran will forgo a £42,000 performance-related bonus.
Mr Gaskell’s move will fund four scholarships of £6,000 for postgraduates and one valued at £25,000 for a student from a developing country. This gift will be repeated ‘for the foreseeable future’
The moves mean that his salary was frozen at £203,000 and and that of Paul Curran at £280,000 for 2012-13, with neither leader accepting a pay hike in the past three years.
Not all universities are adopting the same scrooge like approach to staff remuneration this Christmas. The principal of UWS recently adopted a different approach as seen in their ‘all staff’ e-mail below. It would be a nice token for other universities to do likewise:
From Principal at UWS
From: University Announcement Sent: 04 December 2013 15:17 To: DL-All Staff(New) Subject: Message from Principal Colleagues Since my arrival at UWS I have been tremendously impressed by the commitment and energy shown by staff. There are many great examples across the UWS community of truly outstanding work. I am conscious of the very significant and positive achievements of colleagues in delivering excellence across the University, in particular the real drive to deliver a superb student experience. Your collective efforts also helped the University achieve a very sound financial position last year. In recognition of this I have asked, with the agreement and support of Court, that on a one-off basis:
• a non-consolidated, pro-rata payment of £250, with a minimum payment of £25, is made to all core salaried staff. Most of these payments will be made in the December or January salary. • the University will close early for the Christmas break at the end of the standard working day on Friday 20th December, instead of Tuesday 24th – providing two days’ additional leave as a reward to staff…….
Whilst the University is part of national pay negotiation, I am also mindful that this process has been ongoing for some six months. I have, therefore, asked that the University proceed with payment of the 1% uplift offered through those negotiations in December’s salaries, inclusive of back pay. This step should not be seen as undermining the national approach but as an action which seeks to balance the University’s commitment to the joint negotiating arrangements with a genuine concern for all staff You will appreciate that in putting these measures in place the University is seeking to do all that it can to acknowledge the dedication of colleagues and your evident commitment to the future development of the University. Managers are asked to advise colleagues, who do not have access to email, of the content of this message
Yours sincerely Craig Professor Craig Mahoney Principal & Vice-Chancellor