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.
Tea for two….(hours)
Following the failure of the university employers association to offer a decent pay increase, the UCU throughout the UK will be holding a series of 2-hour long strikes – in the shape of an extended coffee/tea break – in the next three weeks.
The dates and times of the strikes will be Thursday 23rd January from 11am – 1pm; Tuesday 28th January 2pm – 4pm and Monday 10th February 9am – 11am
We are inviting all UCU members to enjoy a coffee/tea break at these times in the Student Bistro in the Student Association, where we will have the chance, amongst other things, to chat to local students regarding why we feel there is no option but to continue our action.
There is a Q&A session for all staff regarding the continuing action and its implications on Tuesday 21st January at 12.30 in M142 to which all members are invited.
Remember: Tuesday 21st Jan 12.30 M142 – Q&A on industrial action
Thursday 23rd – Strike coffee/ tea break in Student Association Bistro 11 – 1pm
Unite the Union, one of the unions representing staff at Glasgow Caledonian today slammed what they called ‘Elite University Bosses’ at the Russell Group of Universities – which in Scotland includes Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and St Andrews universities. Glasgow Caledonian University is not a member of this group – being a member, instead of the Alliance group of universities.
Unite condemned Vice chancellors at the elite Russell Group of universities for ‘rank hypocrisy’ for pocketing big pay rises, while trying to enforce a one per cent pay rise on staff.
Unite was commenting as a Times Higher Education (THE) survey of 19 of the group’s 24 members revealed that the average vice chancellor salary in the group increased by just over £22,000 to nearly £293,000 in 2012-13.
Chair of the Unite national education committee Haydn Morris said: “This smacks of rank hypocrisy, given that university staff have endured a six-year pay drought which has seen a 13 per cent cut in pay in real terms since 2008.
“On the day that the cost of living crisis has again been highlighted by the leap in rail fares, the university bosses are lining their own substantial pockets, while those staff that keep Britain in the top ten world university league table struggle to make ends meet.
“The ‘them and us’ situation is made worse as the cumulative operating surplus in the higher education sector is now over £1 billion. Cash rich universities could well afford to be more generous than the one per cent offer currently on the table.”
The university trade unions took two days of strike action last year in pursuit of a better pay deal and it is likely that more industrial action will be on the cards in 2014.
According to the THE, once pension payments are taken into consideration, the Russell Group vice chancellors received an average of £318,500 last year – up from £302,500 in 2011-12 which means an average salary rise of 8.1 per cent and a 5.2 per cent rise in overall benefits.
Unite’s university membership embraces science technicians, administrators and facilities management staff and has about 20,000 members in higher education.
Although GCU is not a member of the Russell Group, Dr Nick McKerrall, on behalf of the Combined Unions of the GCU recently drew attention to the disproportionate situation of excessive pay for senior management which is also the case in non Russell Group universities.
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
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.
Very best wishes
On 28 October, the Scottish Government announced that it was allocating £1.061 billion to Scottish Universities, a rise of £19 million from the planned budget for 2013/14.2
The latest available analysis by EIS showed that by 2011-12, Scottish universities had accumulated an operating surplus of almost £85 million between them, up from £15 million in 2008-9.3 The Scottish Funding Council also notes that this figure takes into account exceptional costs related to restructure and that the underlying surplus is £91.4 million, compared with a sector forecast of £70 million. They also held reserves of £2,497,677,000.4
A spokesperson for the combined unions at GCU said: ‘What we are asking for is a modest and affordable pay rise to reward those who are the backbone of our current education system and who have made universities like Glasgow Caledonian the success story they are today.’