Tag Archives: Pamela Gillies

UCU regrets management increasing disruption to students

We want Fair Pay and Management Fair Play!

We want Fair Pay and Management Fair Play!

The UCU at Glasgow Caledonian today announced their regret at the GCU management’s decision regarding forthcoming industrial action, which threatens to  massively increase the disruption faced by students at GCU.

The union had informed management that there will be a strike for exactly 2 hours, between 11 – 1 on Thursday 23rd January. Staff during this time are invited to attend an extended coffee/tea break in the Student Association bistro, after which they will return to their work, fulfilling their contract as professionals.

Unfortunately HR have informed all staff that those who participate in this and return to work ‘will be regarded as working in a voluntary capacity’ and will not be paid for the hours they work.

Said Douglas Chalmers, President of the local branch of UCU  “this is hard to believe – management are trying to prevent staff from going about their normal work, outwith the two hours they are on strike for fair pay. I cannot see the logic of the management actions – which will only increase disruption to students – and we extend our sympathy to students who will be effected by these management actions.”

In a letter to the university Vice Chancellor, Michael MacNeil, National Head of Bargaining and Negotiations at UCU stated that :

“Our legal advice is that this strike action does not constitute partial performance as suggested by your message from the university, and nor is it action short of a strike: it is in fact a complete withdrawal of labour for the duration of a legally convened strike. It would be perverse, unreasonable and disproportionate to treat a two hour strike as partial performance, particularly when taking into account the additional disruption which will affect students”

He went on to inform the Vice Chancellor that if this action was carried out, the union would immediately instruct our lawyers to take legal action on behalf of its members to challenge the punitive pay docking, plus would have no alternative but to call further strike action for whole rather than part days, and adds “I am sure that students will be baffled that because of the response to our limited action, they will now face complete days of action”

Referring to the letter from HR in an earlier e-mail to all UCU members at Glasgow Caledonian, UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt stated that While its intention is clearly to intimidate…. what kind of institution responds to a legal strike by locking staff out for the day, especially when they know this will increase disruption for students?”

The view of the UCU branch is that staff should not be intimidated by the  messages from management at GCU and that we need to show our support for the campaign and for the future of Higher Education in Scotland and the UK by standing firm. The gap between ordinary staff and senior management, not just in pay, but also in many other aspects of the job, is growing wider and wider. This impacts not just on the financial wellbeing of staff – it also impacts on the general wellbeing of staff and upon our self-respect and dignity at work. In turn this impacts on the service we are able to deliver to students and so on the student experience.

Thursday 23rd 11 – 1pm Strike Tea and Coffee break. Student Association Bistro

Please speak to your colleagues so that you can buddy with others as you walk out at 11am and make your way to the Bistro.

GCU Unions clarify management’s misunderstandings

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:

Hi all

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!

Nick

Dr Nick McKerrell
Convenor of Glasgow Caledonian Combined Union Committee.

GCU University unions move towards strike action 3rd December

UCU, Unison and Unite members out in force

UCU, Unison and Unite members out in force

Following the failure of the University and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) to offer an increased pay offer to university staff, Glasgow Caledonian University unions will be joining their colleagues throughout Scotland and South of the border in a further day’s strike on Tuesday 3rd December.

October 31st saw a tremendous turnout from staff from three of the four university unions, now to be joined by EIS on December 3rd.

Why we are in dispute

Universities are central to a modern forward looking society, but increasingly staff working within them are seeing their living standards being cut, at a time when universities have adequate reserves to pay decent salaries, and when principals are continuing to accept massive salary increases.

Comparative figures between 2009 and 2012 show that in this period, the median pay for full time and casualised staff working as Higher Education teaching professionals has decreased by 2.27 percent in absolute terms to a median wage of £39,414. Over the same period, inflation has increased the cost of living by a cumulative 15.5 percent.

Higher education teaching professionals are still paid significantly below comparably skilled professionals, including legal professional workers, marketing and sales directors, train and tram drivers, human resource managers and directors, IT specialist managers, health professionals, and police officers (sergeant and below).

For a professional service to our students and to our communities, university employers need to ensure their staff are paid a professional salary.

That’s why we will be on strike on December 3rd.

Comparative Scottish Salaries for Univerisity Principals

Comparative Scottish Salaries for Univerisity Principals

GCU Unions convey best wishes to new Chancellor Yunus

Members of all university unions were present at the inaugural ceremony installing Professor Muhammad Yunus as new Chancellor of the University on Friday 26th October.

During his installation, Professor Yunus spoke of the need for universities to solve global problems, but suggested that the biggest challenge was often right next to campus – within the neighbourhood.  Drawing on his own experience, he developed the idea of the ‘village’ as  a real university saying that ‘without community engagement, the concept of a university is empty – the village is a real university‘. He praised the potential in this generation of young people, suggesting they could be the most powerful generation ever – in fact he wondered if young people were yet aware of their real powers. He suggested young people needed to ‘redesign’ the whole system – ‘before the system trashes you, trash that sort of system‘. Arguing that, if taught correctly young people could create jobs, not just seek them – he believed that universities were not factories to make ‘jobseekers’ – each human being could ‘create a new world‘. This world as at present was ‘finished’. We needed to aim for the next 25 years, where poverty didn’t belong to human society. He finished by arguing that young people were not ” ‘future leaders’, they were leaders already, and that universities should help make that happen“.

Student president Carla Fyfe brought welcome from the student community

During the ceremony, which had been opened by Principal Pamela Gillies,  Student President Carla Fyfe welcomed the Chancellor on behalf of the students, and Cabinet Secretary Mike Russell also spoke welcoming the Chancellor.

Mike Russell – Government continues to support free education

Of interest to the unions, and the university community as a whole, Mike Russell stated that the Scottish government didn’t want to administer a glorified poor law from Westminster, and also talked of how education changed lives, which was why the Scottish government would continue to invest in it. He also pledged continuing Scottish government support for free education.

Local UCU President Douglas Chalmers brought Professor Yunus the greetings of the unions at GCU

Following the ceremony, Professor Yunus informally spoke to members of the university community during lunch, and during this was pleased to receive the congratulations of the university unions, from UCU branch president Douglas Chalmers, during which he thanked the unions for their support, telling them “I’m looking forward to seeing more of you.”

Independent review calls for shake up of university governance

An independent review of Higher Education Governance in Scotland today called for fundamental change in the way universities are governed.

Amongst its recommendations:

  • Governing bodies need to better show that they observe principles of good governance, regularly reviewing their own performance.
  • Meetings of University Court should normally be held in public.
  • There should be representatives of academic unions and of support staff unions on University Court (in addition to directly elected staff members)
  • At least forty percent of the Court membership should be female, and membership should also reflect principles of equality and diversity more generally.
  • Senior managers other than the Principal should not be Court members, nor attend unless for specific agenda items where their attendance is deemed necessary.
  • Chairs of Court (which should now be an elected post) should work closely with Principals, but be independent of them.
  • University Principals’ performance should be appraised by external governing body members, staff and students. Their method of appointment should be reformed.
  • Remuneration committees should include staff and student members.

The panel looking into change also recommended that the role of trade unions in university governance should be enhanced.

The report (copy here) has already been welcomed by university unions. We expect that it should be welcomed by our University Court in the interest of good governance.

University unions would welcome a real discussion with representatives of the Court on this document as well as on the shocking revelations of the staff survey. This should of course be of a more serious nature than ‘staff listening’ events – which it appears even the Principal’s office is now recognising do not work.

We have also written to Principal Gillies’ representative asking that the Principal attend meetings of the Joint Consultative Committee (as was standard practice with previous Principals). We will report back on her response to your staff representatives.

Scottish Press reports criticism of Senior Management at GCU

A hard hitting article by the Herald’s Education reporter Andrew Denholm has brought the shocking results of the recent GCU staff survey into the public’s gaze.

Stating that “A survey of staff at Glasgow Caledonian University  found just 19% said principal Professor Pamela Gillies and her management ‘lead the university well’ “, Denholm’s report goes on to outline the devastating statistics which have emerged from the management-initiated survey.

Within the article,  Dr Nick McKerral, convener of the university’s combined union committee expresses the point that “although they are obviously committee to their job within the public service of higher education, the figures show that ordinary staff feel ignored by highly paid senior management who have carried through many controversial plans, including attempting to make 95 compulsory redundancies last year”.

Nick is also quoted as saying  “The unions on campus will be requesting a meeting with Court, the governing body of the university, to ask what they plan to do about the failures of GCU management reflected in the survey.”

Denholm goes on to report that “Prof  Gillies who earns £211,000, pointed to many positives within the survey in an e-mail to the staff. She said the survey results show that staff are generally positive about the university, with 92% saying they are interested in the university and it is more than just a job.”

The full report can be found here on the Herald’s website, and on this blog’s Media Coverage page.

GCU Court needs to act NOW on shocking findings of Staff Survey

Fact. The GCU Trade Unions were not consulted about the contents of the survey nor questions within it.

Fact. The survey was issued after a long period of senior management  minimising real consultation with the unions at GCU.

Fact. The result of the survey is a damning indictment of long term inept management at the university which is clearly linked to the practice of ignoring the views of staff and their elected representatives.

If this was the business community, boardroom changes would have taken place long before now.

Fact. It is about time University Court did something about this and proved they act in the interest of the university community, its staff, the students who we serve, and the Scottish people who deserve more from a publicly funded and top class higher education establishment.

How the staff feel:
While 84% feel valued by colleagues, only 34% feel valued by the University.
Staff feel proud of what they do but despair at how they are treated
.

Only 19% agree that senior management manages and leads the university well.

Only 14% agree to any extent that senior management listens to and responds to the views of front line staff.

Only 43% – less than half – of senior management agree to any extent that they themselves set out a clear vision of where the university is headed.

This can only be described as an abject failure of leadership.

Perhaps this is reflected in the fact that a higher proportion of senior management (21%) than staff across the board (19%) are actively seeking to leave the university. Lets hope that this 21% includes the 7% of senior management that isn’t particularly interested in the university – it’s just a job!

The chaotic process that was restructuring
Very few staff agree to any extent that the changes brought about by restructuring were ‘about right’ (17%), ‘well planned’ (19%) ‘well explained’ (28%) or ‘managed well’ (22%).

Even senior management wouldn’t admit to the effective planning (29%), explanation (36%), or managing (36%) of change.

Fact: Senior management admit they are not doing their job effectively.

In spite of these fundamental issues of concern, 71% of staff agree to some extent that they feel inspired to do their best work every day. Most (70%) still think that GCU is a good place to work and 85% do claim to enjoy their work.

What the staff opinion survey shows is that GCU can celebrate its staff – but not its leadership.

Any inaction on these statistics would discredit  GCU Court as much as senior management seem discredited in the opinions freely given by university staff, – union and non-union members – alike.

For more information on GCU governance see our blog page here