Tag Archives: strike

UCU members now working to contract throughout UK

Work to contract_lunchFollowing up from our last two blog posts reporting on local action including the excellent Glasgow media coverage, the UCU has a page reporting all the activity https://www.ucu.org.uk/UCU-HE-strike-live

And now we move to action short of a strike by working to contracthttps://www.ucu.org.uk/heactionfaqs sets this out as:

  • performing no additional voluntary duties, such as out of hours cover, covering for colleagues (unless such cover is contractually required), or attending open days etc.
  • setting and marking no work beyond that work which you are contractually obliged to set and/or mark or which you are competent to do
  • attend no meetings where such attendance is voluntary on your part
  • undertake no duties that breach statutory guidance, health and safety policies or other significant employer’s policies.

Hours of Work
UCU has told GCU management that we have called ‘action short of a strike’ in the form of ‘not working in excess of the maximum number of hours stipulated in the affected employees’ contract of employment, or, where no maximum number of hours is stipulated, 37 hours per week (or such lesser number of hours as the case may be).’

What this means is that you should work no more than the maximum number of hours stipulated in your contract, or, where the contract is silent on the maximum number of hours, 37 hours in any normal working week. In a shorter working week, eg, a week in which there is a bank holiday, or you are on strike or lawfully at work for less than a week (eg, you are on holiday or you work a fraction of a full time post) the union asks that you work the appropriate fraction of the normal working week. Read more at https://www.ucu.org.uk/heactionfaqs

External Examining
UCU is appealing to members to resign positions as External Examiners – there is a collective letter in the Guardian that members might wish to read:
http://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/may/26/why-we-are-resigning-as-external-examiners, again the FAQ has more details. https://www.ucu.org.uk/heaction_externalexaminers

As ever, UCU@GCU will be encouraging members to take lunch breaks, leave on time and reclaim the weekend. It’s a bank holiday weekend coming up and the forecast is for sun, so perhaps you can make a start on the weeding or simply pot up some basil seeds for your windowsill. There’s plenty of outdoor activities going on around the Glasgow area as well as theatre, exhibitions and events, including the Southside Fringe Festival.  You can start planning your weekends from here: http://www.whatsonglasgow.co.uk/  Use the #fairpayinhe twitter hashtag to keep us up to date with what you’re doing instead of working all those extra hours you always do.

Members may find this page useful as a clear statement of the issues in our current dispute https://www.ucu.org.uk/fair-deal-for-HE

Thanks again for the support for your union, your colleagues and the future of HE

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

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

Countdown to marking boycott on April 28th

Layout 1UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt has written to members to confirm that a date has been set for members to begin an assessment boycott in the current pay dispute.

She wrote: ‘The Higher Education Committee met to review the current dispute and agree next steps. It was noted that members had already taken substantial industrial action in the campaign for fair pay and that in the continued absence of any movement from the employers, further escalated action would be necessary.

‘Having examined assessment timetables, HEC therefore confirmed the implementation of a marking boycott with effect from Monday 28 April.

‘This is a serious but unavoidable step for which the union will need to fully prepare members.

‘HEC therefore agreed that between now and 28 April the union should prioritise working with branches to maximise the impact of a marking boycott, including in the minority of institutions where most assessment has already been done.

‘This will include branch meetings to discuss the marking sanction, joint union meetings, early discussions with local students’ unions and continued campaigning activity including a focus on VC/Principals’ pay and perks.’

She added that UCU will also begin ‘detailed discussions with our colleagues in the National Union of Students (NUS) on the impact and practicalities of a marking boycott.

‘It was therefore agreed,’ she said, ‘that our current claims which set out the case for fair pay and equality in HE be continued in any new negotiations until its terms are met. This is the position we will suggest to the other HE unions. No member I have spoken to wishes to see this dispute escalate, but in the continued absence of meaningful negotiations this is our only alternative. Even now the timetable HEC has set provides a window of opportunity for the employers to address our just demands, which I hope they take’.

GCU Trade Unions send congratulations to students for active elections

Trade Unions at GCU today sent greetings to the GCU students who are nearing the end of their elections for their local student association officers, and pledged to continue to work with the new officers in the interests of the staff, students and the wider University.

“We are really pleased to see what appears to be such a vigorous campaign involving the maximum of students – we look forward with interest to the outcome, and to working together in the next period as we have in the past.  Students have benefited from the support of trade unions here, who have consistently argued for better resources to be put at their disposal.

We are also very grateful for the consistent support in our current campaign for fair pay on campus. We are sure that it has been pressure from students throughout the UK, as well as from staff industrial action that has made the employers agree to talk to staff again about pay at a UK level. We hope that students will keep up their support and pressure, so that it will not be necessary for staff to undertake a future marking boycott – which may be the only resort left to us  if the employers do not act responsibly.  We believe by working together, staff and students can ensure that a sensible and quick end to this dispute can be achieved. Thank you again for your support”

Strike time ‘teach-out’ for students (and staff) at GCU during industrial action

Using strike time positively to help student understanding of contemporary issues

Using strike time positively to help student understanding of contemporary issues

Monday 10th February’s 2 hour strike will be used imaginatively by UCU members to host a debate on the issues raised by the forthcoming referendum.  Although the UCU’s position is neutral on the outcome of the referendum, save for values and policies they demand are upheld whatever the outcome – as seen in their manifesto, it was suggested that it could be useful to explore the various options.

Meanwhile staff were extremely surprised to see the GCU logo being used to publicise a speech against independence made by David Cameron. This identification of the university  with one side or other of the debate has been commented on by several people including ex BBC news anchor Derek Bateman, the pro-independence website Newsnetscotland, and also by the GCU Student VP Education in his blog.

It is expected that the GCU trade unions will discuss the implications of this for the reputation and standing of the university with management in the coming days.

Meanwhile please attend our ‘Teach-out’ in the Students Association building, and also – if you are a student, the GCU Students Association referendum-themed panel discussion focusing on education and youth employment on Thursday 20th February (more info and sign up here)

Please support the UCU strike 9 – 11 am Monday 10th November, and attend the ‘Teach-out’ in the Students association building from 10am till 11am.

Balloons and bacon rolls keep spirits high on GCU picket line

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

United for Fair Pay

Determined to win our action

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

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

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.