Tag Archives: Students

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

Prevent Prevent campaign continues

Dissent Prevent v1a

The UCU have continued to campaign against the UK government’s ill thought out and divisive ‘Prevent’ strategy which seeks to turn academic and support staff into snoopers who monitor students for signs of ‘extremism.’

Having been a part of the English educational scene for several years, the Home Office decided last year that it should also be applied to Scotland, including Scotland’s universities. They instructed the Scottish government to apply a version of their UK policy north of the border, and the result is a set of guidelines, which quite frankly neither the Scottish government nor it seems, the Scottish universities are happy with, but which have been applied to higher education in Scotland, and in even stricter form to further education in Scotland

Douglas Chalmers. UCU Scotland president represented the union at the Islamophobia 2015 conference in Edinburgh

Douglas Chalmers. UCU Scotland president represented the union at the Islamophobia 2015 conference

The ‘Prevent’ guidance which has been issued to all universities and colleges (and which can be downloaded here), raises the expectation that university staff will now be expected to monitor students for signs of ‘extremism’ one part of which is that they do not display support for a very loosely defined set of ‘British values.’

This has already led to the ridiculous situation in some English universities, of muslim students being questioned on their views because they have been seen reading (set) textbooks on global terrorism and security – despite this being the postgraduate course they are studying.

The UCU has supported the "Students not Suspects' tour when it visited Scotland

The UCU has supported the “Students not Suspects’ tour when it visited Scotland

The UCU has drawn up a set of guidelines for staff which can be downloaded here. NUS has also produced some useful guidance here.  The branch at GCU have produced our own broadsheet on the issue.  We will also continue to support the ‘students not suspects’ initiatives, and campaign to get the prevent measures scrapped.

The only honest bank is a food bank….. says the UCU@GCU

Brian Pillans the branch honorary secretary doing the hard work

Branch honorary secretary Brian Pillans doing the hard work

Supporting the GCU students association initiative of setting up a food bank collection, UCU@GCU has donated 50 bags of groceries – over 300 items, to represent 1 item per member at the university. They are also appealing to their members to collect and donate to the food bank which accepts donations in the Students Association.

Although we agree with the assertion made at this weekend’s conference that food banks are not the solution to a deeper seated crisis, we believe that anything that can alleviate the difficult situation that students find themselves in, the better.

The food bank collections will be officially launched in the GCU Students Association building on Monday 2nd March at 11.30am

UCU@GCU help students to ‘bite the ballot’

graphic 3National Voter Registration Day, 5th of February saw posters  put up in 100 classrooms and lecture halls at GCU giving advice to students on how to safeguard their right to vote.

In a joint campaign run between UCU and the National Union of Students, 1000 students at GCU were also given a specially printed leaflet letting them know how to check  whether they were on the updated electoral register, following changes imposed by the UK government which had led to 1 million UK citizens being removed.

“Many issues are going to be decided at the next election which will have a crucial effect on students at GCU”, said Douglas Chalmers, local branch president. “International students are already hit badly by the restrictive policies of the border agency and there are many other issues still decided in Westminster that impact on young people here. The following election at Holyrood, will of course have immediate impact on education policy so it’s important that young people are not disenfranchised by measures to restrict those who can vote. The unions at GCU will work with the Students Association and the wider ‘Bite the Ballot’ campaign to ensure that this message gets through to as many people as possible”.

Graphic 4 poster

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”

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.

Stand Up (comedy)…for your rights… at GCU

Stand up collageTuesday 28th January  saw Unison member Eddie McKean donating part of his lunch time to give striking UCU members and their supporters at GCU the opportunity to be the audience for some of his latest stand up routines – normally seen at comedy fairs as part of the ‘Bright Club’ of academic stand ups.

Hosted at the Students Association, the routine was part of the latest two hours of industrial action conducted by UCU in they campaign for fair pay on campus, following some early morning leafleting to alert students of why some of their classes would be disrupted.

During the 2 hour period leaflets were distributed to students in the Student Association explaining the background of the strike, thanking them for their support in the current campaign.