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
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
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
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.
The success of Douglas Chalmers in a contested election, and Davena Rankin elected unopposed in the recent ballots for staff governors to the GCU court, is a sign that staff are backing the reforms in university Governance promoted by both candidates, according to Dr Nick McKerrell, chair of the Combined Union Committee at GCU.
Interviewed by the Caledonianunion blog after being informed of his success – with a resounding 67 percent backing from those who had cast their votes, Dr Douglas Chalmers, President of the local UCU branch said:
Douglas Chalmers – looking for democracy in the way the university is governed
“I am proud to have been elected by my academic colleagues, on a clear platform of support for the recent Von Prondzynski proposals of reforming HE Governance. I think there is a clear understanding in the sector that the status quo is frankly not working, and indeed the tinkering with the status quo, which is currently being suggested by the chairs of Court does not answer the need for substantial change. I will be consulting widely within the university community regarding governance at GCU before my first Court meeting, and would encourage any member of academic staff – whether in a trade union or not – to get in touch if they have a point of view they would like to put to me on this. I think the fact that over two thirds of those voting – in a four person contest – voted for change is heartening – although the turnout of 14 percent shows the mountain that still needs climbed to convince staff that the court structure is a relevant part of governance at GCU. I hope to help do this over my term as governor”.
Said Dr McKerrell “ Ironically, Douglas is now the only member of Court to have been elected in an open and contested ballot. Given that his platform was based on the CUC’s view of the need for change – something, of course, also backed by Davena – this surely gives weight to the democratic mandate for seeking this change. The next three years will be critical to ensure that senior management in Scottish Higher Education are subject to democratic governance. Douglas and Davena will ensure this happens“
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.
In a ballot of all Unison members at Glasgow Caledonian, and with a turnout of over 60 percent, an incredible 97% have voted in favour of being balloted on industrial action.
In response to GCU Management plans for devastating cuts at the university, UNISON, the largest trade union at Glasgow Caledonian University representing both academics and support staff, conducted a consultative ballot of members this week. The ballot asked members if they were in favour of being balloted on industrial action – with 97 per cent voting in favour of the move.
This action follows an announcement byManagement last month of plans to cut 95 jobs, a move which staff say will hit the most vulnerable students hardest. But union officials are still hopeful that a dispute can be avoided and are urging university bosses to withdraw the threat of compulsory redundancies and to think twice about implementing such devastating cuts.