Tag Archives: Douglas Chalmers

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

UCU Scotland Presidential candidate outlines his views

A continued campaign of innovative activity on a whole range of issues affecting academic and academic related staff in Scotland’s universities is the way forward for the University and College Union,  according to presidential hopeful Douglas Chalmers.  Having served as Scottish Vice President, for the last 2 years, Douglas is hoping to be elected in the current ballot which is open until February 27th.

A believer that trade unions are the natural community for all staff at university, Douglas believes that the UCU should be a core defender of the wages and conditions of staff – but also much more than that. In his view it is action on a whole range of questions that affect the life of staff that makes the best case for people to join. He points to the local branch’s work on International Womens’ Day, support for equality and diversity, student support, health and wellbeing, democracy in the university sector, as well as action on pensions and wages as being the reason that GCU continues to enjoy one of the greatest rates of growth amongst branches in Scotland.

GCU branch member Catriona Miller put some questions to Douglas about his candidacy and regarding some of the main issues facing the union and Scottish education. This can be found below.

Douglas’s election statement can be found here

A previous interview about Douglas’s views on building the union as a community, on working with other unions, on re-imagining universities, and on pensions, governance and working with the Scottish government is found below.

Carlo Morelli of Dundee University is also contesting the position of President of  UCU Scotland

UCU supports more academic freedom in universities

Staff and students cast their vote for democracy

Staff and students cast their vote for democracy

“Expanding academic freedom in universities is is something that everyone connected to education in Scotland should be in support of” said Douglas Chalmers, local president of UCU at Glasgow Caledonian, following the branch’s submission to the current government consultation on higher education governance. The submission can be downloaded here.

“The experience of the recent referendum makes it even more obvious that the ability of academics to speak out freely cannot be taken for granted, or left to voluntary codes – so we would expect all universities to support this expansion, or explain why they fail to do so.”

“Our submission also calls for the direct election of chairs of Court by students and staff, and for the investigation of the possibility and practicalities of additional elections within universities of senior management from positions of Head of Departments and above.

“We have also repeated our view that there need to be specified places for students and staff on governing bodies and agree with the proposal that there should be positions for nominated representatives of trades unions. Given that trade unions are recognised as the representatives of staff in universities, we do not see the need for additional non-union ‘staff’ members on the governing body.

“We would also be in favour of a majority of Senate members being elected and that efforts should be made to make the Senate more representative of diversity amongst staff. We are in favour of moving towards 50:50 gender balance on the Senate”.

Glasgow Caledonian Staff and students show support for democratic change

What's not to like about more democracy?

What’s not to like about more democracy?

Postcards supporting democratic change were being signed at the rate of more than one a minute, during a brief lunchtime pop up stall run by the UCU at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Almost 70 pledges of support for change – and in favour of taking current Scottish government proposals for change even further – were signed by staff of all grades, from catering staff right up to management.

The Scottish government has asked for views on reforming governance to be sent to themselves by January 30th, and the unions at Glasgow Caledonian will be submitting a response, arguing for the full implementation of the Von Prondzynski reforms promised some time ago.

UCU local president Douglas Chalmers (who is the academic staff governor on GCU Court) said: “What’s not to like about more democracy? Universities should be embracing this change, not trying to minimise it. It’s not ‘change for change sake’ but is a well thought out set of proposals which will maximise academic freedom, and allow the tapping in to the energies and talents of university staff – and indeed students – rather than falling into the dangers of a business model of Higher Education. I commend those supporting, and involved in today’s action, which I’m sure is representative of wider staff and student feeling. All the unions in Glasgow Caledonian are in favour of this change”. 

Further photos of the event which was popular and very good natured can be found on the caledonianunion flickr feed here.

Joint statement agreed between GCU Unions and management on past year’s work and future priorities

The university unions and GCU management have for the first time adopted a joint assessment of the past year’s work. This has been published in the form of a joint chairs’ statement from Douglas Chalmers, current chair of the Joint Consultative Committee, and Jan Hulme, University Secretary. This was adopted after several discussions at the JCC and is one of the outcomes that emerged from the commissioning of an independent report ‘Building better relationships – a way forward for Glasgow Caledonian University and its trade unions’, which was written by Nita Clarke of the IPA in 2014.

One of the suggestions of Clarke’s report, which was cautiously welcomed by both unions and management, was that: ‘The work of the JCC should be positively, proactively and jointly communicated by the unions and GCU to the wider university community‘. Another was that: ‘At the heart of agreed behaviours should be a firm agreement on a no-surprise approach, with both sides committing to mutual discussion in good time and the earliest possible sharing of information‘.

Unions also particularly welcomed the proposal that: ‘Union representation should be considered a mark of status and representatives recognised particularly at departmental level for their contribution to the smoother running of university life.

Within the framework of the new approach suggested by Clarke, there has been an acknowledged improvement in the relationship between unions and management, and the approach to solving issues of difference. This is despite the fact that it was also a time when several periods of industrial action took place.

It is envisaged that the joint statement from the chairs of the JCC will be published simultaneously early in 2015, in Caledonian Connected, on the Staff Portal, and on this blog.

Caledonian UCU Annual General Meeting looks forward to 2015

Scottish President David Anderson brought greetings from the UCU Scottish Executive

Scottish President David Anderson brought greetings from the UCU Scotland Executive

Banners,  bulletins and big ideas were among the topics discussed at the UCU’s seventh Annual General Meeting held in the last week of Trimester A.

Clare Hunter led a discussion on the proposed banner motifs and keywords that would best express our aims as key representatives of the University community, championing the concept of a University for the Common Good,  working with sister unions and with the wider student community in a challenging environment for Scottish Higher Education.

Local President Douglas Chalmers gave a brief resumé of the year’s work, which had led to our highest ever membership and our strongest financial position so far.

Branch Secretary Brian Pillans reported on current negotiations over the workload model, the anti-casualisation strategy and other ongoing issues, while Membership Secretary and Vice-President Catriona Mowat gave an analysis of our membership – which, at 61 percent female, accurately represented the gender balance at university.

David Anderson, Scottish President, brought the greetings of the Scottish Executive in the form of his Santa’s wish list (which he said was still suspiciously like last year’s). However, he was pleased to say that it was more likely that next year’s list wouldn’t include Governance, as the Scottish Government now seemed to be moving to legislate on it.

IMG_4392

For those who could wait behind, some seasonal refreshment

The branch discussed and passed three resolutions for our forthcoming UK conference. For our overall conference (HE and FE), we are proposing   The UCU in the post constitutional referendum period, and for the HE Sector conference we are putting forward Campaigning for increasing Democracy in the HE Sector and Facing outwards as an Educational Trade Union. These were agreed in principal, although it was noted some needed to be cut down slightly in length.

For the Scottish conference we unanimously adopted four resolutions – The role of the STUC in Scottish Politics and Moves towards better Governance together with Constructing an action plan for growth and Creating a Postgraduate Network in Scotland. For the first time we also elected a postgrad rep onto our branch committee, to join the existing branch committee, which was re-elected.

The branch also elected delegates to the UK and Scottish conferences.

Student ‘Teach-Out’ on independence a success at GCU

The debate on the independence referendum was a good natured success

The debate on the independence referendum was a good natured success

Part of the UCU’s latest 2 hour strike on February 10th saw a ‘teach-out’ hosted in the students association building of GCU where the staff and students present listened to opposing cases for a ‘Yes’ vote and a ‘No’ vote in the referendum.

Ably chaired by Steward Davidson from Social Sciences, both speakers claimed they had won, though unlike in September to come, no vote was taken.

Feb10Gate activity

As at previous events, a good turnout of pickets in the morning

Earlier some active picket line activity at the gate had seen the distribution of a special leaflet explaining our action and inviting students to come along to the discussion later that morning.

Those at the debate suggested that this had been a valuable addition to the activity of the branch and suggested that similar activity might be carried out in future.

Balloons at the ready before the picket

Balloons at the ready before the picket