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.

UCU helps launch food bank collections at GCU

Douglas Chalmers pledged future work together with the Students Association

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.

The only honest bank is a food bank….. says the UCU@GCU

Brian Pillans the branch honorary secretary doing the hard work

Branch honorary secretary Brian Pillans doing the hard work

Supporting the GCU students association initiative of setting up a food bank collection, UCU@GCU has donated 50 bags of groceries – over 300 items, to represent 1 item per member at the university. They are also appealing to their members to collect and donate to the food bank which accepts donations in the Students Association.

Although we agree with the assertion made at this weekend’s conference that food banks are not the solution to a deeper seated crisis, we believe that anything that can alleviate the difficult situation that students find themselves in, the better.

The food bank collections will be officially launched in the GCU Students Association building on Monday 2nd March at 11.30am

UCU@GCU help students to ‘bite the ballot’

graphic 3National Voter Registration Day, 5th of February saw posters  put up in 100 classrooms and lecture halls at GCU giving advice to students on how to safeguard their right to vote.

In a joint campaign run between UCU and the National Union of Students, 1000 students at GCU were also given a specially printed leaflet letting them know how to check  whether they were on the updated electoral register, following changes imposed by the UK government which had led to 1 million UK citizens being removed.

“Many issues are going to be decided at the next election which will have a crucial effect on students at GCU”, said Douglas Chalmers, local branch president. “International students are already hit badly by the restrictive policies of the border agency and there are many other issues still decided in Westminster that impact on young people here. The following election at Holyrood, will of course have immediate impact on education policy so it’s important that young people are not disenfranchised by measures to restrict those who can vote. The unions at GCU will work with the Students Association and the wider ‘Bite the Ballot’ campaign to ensure that this message gets through to as many people as possible”.

Graphic 4 poster