UCUG Industrial Action

UCU strike FAQ https://www.ucu.org.uk/uss-action-faqs

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Strike Day 14 – Friday 16th March – ‘…pat me down’?!

We made it. Well done everyone. We did it together. Sorry if this blog post ends up a little longer than usual but that was a day and a half. Day 14 was always going to be special for me. I’ve had that YES concert ticket since July last year. But by coincidence it was also this day;

Maria’s 3D placard caught my eye early in the day and it brought home the enormity of what we have achieved. 14 days and still smiling 🙂. The day started early for me at the placard A&E. Day 13 had been wet and our ‘cards took a beating. No way were we showing up at George Sq with tatty placards. A completely new batch was assembled.

I started planning for Day 14 the night before. I contact the student occupation’s man on the outside via Facebook and said, ‘hey, PM me’. Trying to keep the dialogue low key and non-managerial (going forward) would be the secret to establishing contact. The response came within minutes, a secure channel had been established; game on. Were the ‘inside team’ coming on the march? That needed a F2F. We agreed to meet at GU main gate the following morning. Somehow, their guy managed to find me, a raised eyebrow and micro-nod established our respective identities. We headed for the cloisters. As expected; total lock-down. Two guards on the door this morning. I adopted a serious negotiators face and opened with an authoritative, ‘UCU picket supervisor, I need to speak to them’. One of them mumbled something into his lapel. The curly wire running down his neck only added to the gravity of the situation. Almost instantly I sensed a presence behind me. These damn cloisters cast a lot of shadows, had we walked into a trap? I slowly looked round; The COO was right on my shoulder. He didn’t recognise me at first, the high-vis jacket and UCU armband enables me to hide in plain sight. I lowered my hood. We’ve met a few times at committee meetings so I didn’t need ID. He’s looking very smart, I on the other hand am looking decidedly tatty and reeking of picket. I explained that I just wanted to invite the occupation to come on the march. It only took 4 words to get us through the first security check; ‘name’s Duncan, David Duncan’. Moments later we are walking up the grand staircase to the Senate rooms. At the top there is another security check. I’m ushered through. Ahead is the Senate room with it’s main doors firmly closed. Access is via the Carnegie (?) Room which has small door. I can now see the other side of that elaborate knot. Not even Michael Schofield (Prison Break) could figure this one out. There are a further two security guards and I feel a bead of cold sweat run down my back. Is that huge guy going to want to pat me down? No. Phew! I deliver three firm knocks on the access door….and I’m in. The large table in the middle of the room has more laptops than PC world. They seem to be connected together to create some kind of super-computer communication network? Are all the Uni occupations connected and in constant communication? I’m well impressed! We sit round the table and discussions begin…..

Meanwhile, outside, everything is normal;

Perhaps a quieter start than usual but it is raining and we expect this to build a bit before the march. I’m not worried about numbers as by this point I’m confident this is just going to keep growing. I head off to see what’s happening down at the posh gate – remember the halloumi BBQ. In previous strikes (before I was Hon Sec) this was my picket position so I have a fondness for this spot.

Today, it’s Taiwanese Whisky. I must say it’s lovely. Potent, fruity and with a finish of creamy vanilla and forest bluebells. Every day’s an education at that gate. Thanks Olwyn. Time is against me this morning. I spent too long in the Senate room partly because of the interesting chat and partly because it was dry and warm. Now I’m clock watching as we still have to identify sufficient march wardens, distribute high-vis bibs, build the banner and then collect the occupation from the West Quad. Fast forward through lots of frantic manoeuvres and before I know it, it’s 30 minutes till show time when Glasgow’s finest turn up in vans to escort us to the rally. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight we would not have taken the march up the stairs 😳

I’m reminded of the Laurel & Hardy film ‘The Music Box’ (the one with the piano). But the guys did a great job. We got in and collected the occupation.

After a wee bit of confusion over which door they were leaving through, they amazingly turned up behind us in the cloisters! How? What? Did they use the cloisters shadows, or more worryingly; have they discovered the underground passages?

With the full team assembled we marched off into town;

The Vanguard was setting a pretty healthy pace. Which is tough work for the banner-men who were carrying a main-sail that could easily service a 36 foot yacht in a light breeze. And so we arrived at exactly the place stipulated by the Glasgow City Council Processions Officer; the North West corner of George Sq where the pavement is bevelled to permit easy access (who knew?). Time for quick photo op.

Good to see at least one student maintaining a stoic struggle face. Wait a minute, is that Ruby our chant leader – ‘hey, hey, ho, ho, these pension cuts…..’ . Ruby played a big part in this action and she deserves a special mention. Thanks.

Great to see Crichton with their new banner. And then the speeches. I didn’t quite catch the first speakers name. I think she said Beyoncé. Full marks to UCU Scotland in securing such a high profile compère though.

We were joined by the Fire Brigade Union, and their rep gave a blistering speech in which she recounted the brazier on the picket-line incident that they were called out to. I can’t help but think there was a missed opportunity for further humour there…

There were another few speakers and then we headed home. The last in word in this though goes to a student. After the rally we got a taxi to take all the placard sticks, bibs and the banner back to the office. 3 of us then headed out for lunch; me, Maggie (the UCUG administrator) and the @UCUG-twitterer (tweeter?). We collected two dead placards from the main gate and kept walking. We were soon approached by a rather flustered looking young student. He asked, ‘is the strike still on?’. We assured him, ‘yes, for the rest of the day’. ‘Oh thank God’, he says, ‘that means I haven’t missed my tutorial’. True story, I have witnesses. Solidarity for ever.

See you all next time.

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Strike Day 13 – Thurs 15th March – ‘Lock Down’

Well, you just never know what’s in store on a GU picket day. It all started quite normally; I arrived late (again) around 8.05am. The early shift had a new placard! It was almost a prophecy for the day.

Using Glasgow’s well known fishy bell tree wi that bird that canny sing as a backdrop, the message was clear. ‘Together we stand’. Today would be a great day for solidarity and would end with my sermon on the mount (ok the wee wall across the road). But, first thing’s first. Why are we still on strike? That’s a question, we’re on strike, so that needs a leaflet. Poor Diarmaid had taken on the task of leafleting every car that used the main gate and by day 13 was pig sick of the sight of our ‘pensions axed’ bright yellow leaflet. He seemed visibly moved, I detected a tear of gratitude, when I presented him with @BrianOSmith1967’s newest academic publication. Maybe not REF-returnable but probably more useful 🙂

The drivers of picket-line crossing cars looked confused by this new white leaflet. So just sticking a yellow leaflet on your dashboard from day#3 of the struggle just ain’t gonna cut it today buddy. OR TOMORROW 😂 By about 9am our numbers we’re looking pretty healthy;

….and then the news broke. Students have occupied the Senate room and locked themselves in. Having previously asked us if we could do afternoon pickets to avoid having to get up in the morning we were somewhat baffled as to how they got in before we arrived this morning? Did they sneak in last night? Did they use the underground passages? Oh actually, better keep quiet on that one. I’m not sure if the Student Anarchist group are aware of the underground network of passages. Anyway, back on the surface it was clear something was going down. I decided to go deep undercover and investigate. Julie took my high-vis bib and armband. I immediately felt invisible as I melted into the crowd. Arriving at the cloisters it was eerily quiet. The doors to the court office, Senate and other meeting rooms were locked. An extremely serious looking security officer was checking all passes. My declaration of importance ‘UCU picket supervisor, just want to get some photies’ registered no more than a suspicious stare and a ‘I’ll need to get the chief security officer’. It was clear my security clearance was lower than those underground passages. Whilst deliberating on my next move, VP Neal Juster arrived at the perimeter where he was duly informed that the complex was in ‘lock-down’. I suppressed my guffaw (just) as NJ went off in search of the COO, who was yet to arrive on the scene. Even the West Quad was in lock down

Fortunately Q had supplied me with a discrete camera in my hat and I managed to get this candid shot of the operation in full swing. Whilst talking to one young security officer I heard the order come through on the walkie-talkie that a ‘Campus Sweep’ was required!. Presumably they needed the guy with the leaf blower but I know that he was out front blowing all the leaves on to our picket lines – we had that discussion earlier in the morning. With the lock-down complete, the campus swept for roving protestors, a perimeter secured and Jack Bauer on his way, it was time to post some guards and settle in for the long haul. After the legendary Hetherington occupation of a few years ago, lessons had been learned. The decision to put the helicopters and police dogs on hold had clearly been taken by central command. For the moment it was Student Strike Solidarity 1 Campus Security 0

I went back out to the front lines to brief El Presidente on my mission and to await further instruction. In the spirit of Solidarity, there was only one thing for it. Suspend the picket for 15 minutes and march into the West Quad to bring messages of thanks and solidarity.

We stayed for about 10 minutes showing our support and then headed back to do our (picket) duty. We picked up Kate (SRC president) on the way back and chatted about what exactly is the Uni doing with our strike pay?

Great banner folks. Let’s get the view from inside;

Now, I’ve done a wee bit of sailing in my time but I have never seen that particular knot. Can someone please advise? Looks like a hybrid sheet-bend with a hidden clove hitch. That takes some serious planning. This is clearly a crack occupation group. On the upside, I hope our colleagues in GMB are getting good overtime for watching over our students. That’s all kinds of solidarity right there. No losers 👍🏻✌️

Lastly it was drill practice time. We felt the battalion needed another run through before the big march tomorrow. We would be going right through the town, on public display, so the opportunity for a dress rehearsal could not be missed;

‘Our pension, their education, come out and fight’. I’m sorry, maybe it’s the academic in me but does that placard not have two vowels missing? We’ll let it pass this time👨‍🎓 Seriously though, our students are utterly amazing. Their support has been incredible and has made these past 13 days far more enjoyable than they ever should have been. And so to the sermon on the wee wall.

This would be the last time I address the troops. Tomorrow we will disperse from George Sq and so this was a last chance to say thanks and explain how very very important each picketer was in this dispute. We forced UUK back to the table and rejected their rotten offer. However, they know that we are serious, we can do 14 days in crap weather. So doing 14 days in good weather when all the non-strikers get left to mark and administer the exam scripts? I say bring it on. Hon Sec out✌️

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Strike Day 12 – Wed 14th March – ‘Piper at the Gates at Dawn

Today was going to be an interesting one. What would the mood in the camp be after our rejection of the deal? Would everyone just stay home and have a duvet day? If anyone turned up would it be a subdued picket line or would we be fired up for round #2. I decided to call the troops to action at 8am with the skirl o’ the pipes. Step up Pipe Major Alejo Rodriguez. Now bear in mind poor Alejo (from Buenos Aires) has not played outside on a cold March morning since his busking days of about 8 years ago. If he looks familiar it’s because his office was outside the Apple shop on Buchanan St for several years. Since then he’s gone straight. He didn’t get a haircut but he did get a proper job.

‘Piper at the gates at dawn’. I’m giving away my love of prog rock with that title. Hopefully someone out there will get the joke. I promise you it’s really really witty 🤓

Did I mention I arrived first today? 2/12 ain’t bad.

But the early shift were soon there bang on 8am. Impressive stuff. As expected we got some guests. Today we had Richie Venton from USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive & Allied Workers). We gave him the expected treatment; warm welcome, strike update, friendly chat, photo op and oodles of gratitude for his solidarity. Nothing else should be expected. Erm, take note UCL-UCU, I came from Glasgow and never even got offered a leaflet!

And our brothers from the EIS visited. As an only child I have to say all this ‘Brothers & Sisters’ stuff is really quite amusing, but strangely comforting.

EIS brother John on the far right, sorry right hand side, not far right, we don’t want any of that on our lines. We had some good placards today.

I have to say ‘Revise and Resubmit’ is extremely generous marking. I’m reminded of a Prof I used to double mark with; he would often write ‘nothing of any value here’ on the inside back cover of a completely full script! Lord only knows how he’d grade ‘the proposal’. Meanwhile, the musical Bower Gate had transformed into an old-Skool chalk n talk picket gate. Presumably all Blackboard messages will be uploaded to Moodle2 in good order to mitigate against any possible disruption or impact to our custo…..sorry students.

Right we need to talk about The Clap. No, no no, not the solo guitar piece on the YES Album, the 1 minute clap. Suggested I think by brother Ian (Shaw). Inspired thinking there bro. 1 minute continuous (by all UCU branches) for all us striking strikers and everyone else that striked; it’s not really ‘stuck’ is it? Naw canny be. Striked. So here’s a small dose of the clap 👀😱

While we’re back at the main gate. What about those mischievous students? Blocking the gates so that the Campus Security Guards have to come out and direct traffic? I swear it’s tough trying to manage a peaceful quiet orderly polite and courteous picket line when you have these utter rebels to contend with 👨‍🎓 Gaun yer’sel ✌️🤘👍🏻

And then it was drill time. El Presidente had decided that if were going to march into town on Friday we would be doing it in a neat and tidy, well drilled, by the left (of course!) quick march style. In order to determine how much work this battalion needed we decided to march them round the campus. The troops thought it was a hoot but they didn’t know we were examining their performance for establishing positions on the starting grid for Friday.

And after that it was in to town to meet the Glasgow City Council ‘Processions Officer’. We were applying for only the 3rd ever ’emergency procession’ and that, people, required a face-to-face with the PO. We were most impressed by his professional approach to processing. Every detail was covered; route, marshals, band or no band, numbers expected, high-vis bibs, anti-terrorism procedure (nae kiddin). There would be no turn un-stoned on this officers watch. One can only imagine his horror if anyone ever marched 250 people into town without permission. I’m having kittens just thinking about the potential fall-out from that (Jeanette!!!).

.

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Strike Day 11 – Tuesday 13th March – Part 2 #NoCapitulation

What a day! ‘The day after the night before’ springs to mind coz last night was mental. Trying to have a quiet pint or two (maybe more) in a London boozer with an old pal whilst my phone is buzzing, twitching, binging and beeping. He’s an understanding chap and so didn’t mind the chaos – Thanks Danny. Fortunately my email account had died by the time I got back to my room. I dread to think what I might have sent the entire membership after a few too many sherbets and finally having time to digest ‘the deal’. Anyway, today was quite a day. Whilst the troops in Glasgow were up early to entertain the BBC, I was making new pals at UCL;

The twitter storm of the previous evening came up with a very clear message, reflected across the UK, and perfectly illustrated by Becca;

All the UCU branches were asked to send a rep. down to HQ for a briefing. At the time of agreeing to go we had no idea what any deal would look like. By the time I reached Carlow St (as part of the UCL March) it was clear the the London branches were really unhappy. Sally came out to talk to the crowd and got pelters (can you spot the ‘ghost of public education’?). I was looking around for Ross Kemp, ‘coz it was all about to kick off!’.

Back at GU the emergency meeting voted unanimously to reject the deal.

That got fed back to me at the London meeting (along with the email count) and on our behalf I rejected the deal; as did every other branch. As it was an early finish today some of us got involved in community work;

And finally, after a fairly serious day at the coalface (needed to get a miners ref in), I give you this.

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Strike Day 11 – Tues 13 March – Update, (with Day 10 Blog below)

Events are rapidly moving. Last night UCU published a document outlining a draft proposal following talks with UCU, UUK and ACAS. Twitter quickly and pretty decisively “rejected” the deal. However as UUK have taught us, Twitter is not necessarily the best place for this kind of thing….

Our branch Hon Sec travelled down to London yesterday evening and was Incommunicado for a bit. Logistics in general were horrific and we didn’t want to go all UUK on you….However we knew folk were anxious to hear something so thanks for bearing with us.

So: Day 11 Story So Far…

A great turnout on the early picket (7am-9:30); students amazing again; and massive thanks to She-Boom Drummers who really ramped up the atmosphere. Meanwhile BBCR4 “Today” programme was broadcast from the Uni Chapel, and also came out to interview some people on the picket.

From the picket line, our President Jeanette announced an Emergency Meeting for 9am. SRC also joined us on the picket; and v kindly provided a room for us to meet. The meeting was packed out, around 150 folk. Jeanette (Branch President) outlined the situation re strike in general, deal etc; then we had contributions from Dr Iain Banks, Dr Brian Smith, another audience member, then a student. A mini Q&A was followed by a vote (via show of hands) on The Proposal. Result (albeit not formal; but we are in unprecedented territory here) was to Reject.

An email also went out to branch members just after 8am, asking individuals whether they would accept/reject. Replies from members also suggest the vast majority reject the proposal.

Branch view (as ascertained from picket line; branch email; Emergency Meeting; general “flavour” of Twitter posts) was communicated to Craig (Hon Sec) who will represent/vote on behalf of UCUG at The Meeting.

So; what is The Meeting?

A meeting was called for today (11am-2pm) at UCU HQ in London, where each Branch had to send a Rep. This is to hear each “side” of the “deal” then take a vote. HEC (UCU Higher Education Committee) were also meeting; both before and after this Branch Reps meeting.

** Update from Hon Sec follows **

The meeting heard every single branch reject the proposal. HEC are currently meeting to work out our next move. Sally Hunt will email all members this afternoon with a further update.

To clarify; UCUG are still on strike!! Day 12: Picket tomorrow (Wed 14 March) 8-11am as usual; followed by the Wednesday Teach-Out in QMU.

Pics will be posted later.

Thanks everyone, your support is fantastic and I would also like to say a huge thanks at this point to all our Branch officers (who do this work on a voluntary basis) and all of our membership, whichever grade, stage, age, whether an officer or not. You/we are all UCUG x

Strike Day 10- Mon 12 March – Blood & Guts.

Week #4. Day 10 of 14 – that takes guts. So that just leaves the ‘blood’. We’ll get to that. So, with batteries suitably charged I was ready for battle; for me it was 1 nice meal out, 1 concert, 1 Netflix binge and 1 cinema (Mother’s Day) trip with my mum to see ‘I Tonya’. We both have a particular interest in Ice Skating but this is hardly the place to spill the beans. Ask me on the picket lines! Today I arrived at the picket line FIRST. 7.57am is what it takes, but I finally did it. Only minutes after, we had a wee group and our first guest. Local MP Patrick Grady. Can you spot the Labour voter?

It was a total coincidence that the SNP students turned up for their first stint on the lines.

Other parties will see this as clear evidence of the sinister mind control that the SNP exerts over its supporters. Whatever your political persuasion, fair play to PG for turning out as promised at exactly the time he said. Thanks. Other notable guests today were Satnam Ner (President of the STUC) and Dee Matthew (EIS)

And then, ‘as if by magic, the shopkeeper appeared’ [1]

[1]. Mr Benn (1971) BBC Children’s TV.

Down at Dumfries they also had a visitor, in the shape of Colin Smyth (Labour MSP)

I have joked in the past that our President demands more than just your presence and commitment to the cause. Ok, it’s not exactly Culloden, but at exactly 8.45am the first 5 soldiers were dispatched to give blood;

Down at the Botany Gate it was all getting very musical and I had the chance to get involved;

But let’s not forget what this is all about. And the final picture sets the scene for Day #11. And what a day that would turn out to be!

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Strike Day #9 – Thursday 8th March – ‘IWD 2018’

Another big day. The first time I’ve ever organised an event for International Women’s Day. I went to sleep thinking; plastic cups, spoons, tea, biscuits. I woke up at 4.38am and was thinking; maybe paper cups? milk or coffee whitener? I’m a bit of a worrier. It was another early start. My daughter had asked the night before,’what time are you picketing tomorrow?’, on hearing my response she says,’it’s ok I’ll get a taxi to the airport’. I’m thinking, is this a test? Do I love picketing more than my daughter? Ok, ‘I’ll pick you up at 6.45am’. She is supremely grateful and I’m thinking, ‘I’ve still got time to get back to Tesco for plastic cups, tea, coffee….and hit the picket line for 8’! Result, and my daughter still loves me 😍. Early on we had visitors from the GMB branch of STUC. Don’t ask it’s complicated;

In the photo we have GMB, UCU and Unison (Paula, far right). Fair play to Paula who has joined us most days before heading to work in the library. The solidarity from the other TUs has been amazing. Our other guest today was Pamela Currie from EIS/FELA.

Having won a big battle last year, it was great to have Pam join us. To be fair, Pam resisted bragging about how good the teachers pension is compared to what ours might be. I wandered down to the South Gate where Diarmaid & David et al., were basking in sunshine with their jackets unzipped. I chose not to photograph their complete lack of struggle for the cause and the less said about that the better. Next week I think we’ll have a South Gate rota, no South Gate hogging next week guys. Back at the Botany Gate they had the BBQ going again.

On enquiring what was on offer at the G12 BBQ I’m informed it’s Halloumi! I’ll be honest, I thought that was a posh Girl’s name but no it’s a Cypriot semi-hard unripened, brined cheese made from goat and sheep’s milk. Oh, but it has a high melting point. Science cheese?!! To use that famous Glasgow positive, ‘Aye Right’. Feeling all the weight of my Ruchill upbringing, I moved swiftly on. Back up at the main gate the crowds were in fine voice and being led from the other (sunny) side of the street 👀🧐

We got loads of vehicular support today in the form of car toots and that can be singularly attributed to this top placard.

By the time we got to 11am we were easily up to, our now expected, 120+. Which begs the question; How has this gone unnoticed by the University Newsletter. I thought the idea of Campus News was a ‘what’s happening on Campus’. Ok, strictly speaking we’re not on campus but would you fail to notice this on your doorstep almost 9 days in a row?

I’m thinking someone’s been to the BBC school of selective reporting. So then it’s time to marshal the troops on the sunny side and reward them with a wee heat whilst we give a wee round up of week#3

Overall, an utterly amazing week in which we all obtained proof that STRIKE ACTION DOES WORK. Well done to everyone that came out on the picket lines or took action in other ways. Your sacrifice will be rewarded. So, that set us up nicely for the IWD event at Hillhead Library. Over 70 people attended and listened to 4 fabulous speakers

One of our number, John Faithful (with Hannah too?) took the UCU banner to Edinburgh for the UCU Scotland IWD event. Well done and thanks for representing UCUG.

Looks like they got a fabulous day for it. So, that brought week 4 of Industrial Action to a close. All back to work tomorrow, which is going to feel strange. But back to the picket lines on Monday. Dig in troops only 5 more pickets to go. Stay strong, we’re winning.

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Strike Day 8 – Wednesday 7th March – ‘local action, events & breakthroughs’

The day started early, having discovered the previous night that the cost of getting 500 leaflets printed locally is ludicrous. I mean, who needs ‘silk prints’? Can you not just buy cheap A5 B&W flyers? It would appear not in G12. So, into the office at 7am to make leaflets for International Women’s Day event tomorrow (Day 9); Hillhead Library at 12 noon with 4 fantastic speakers. I took the opportunity to make a few new placards too.

I arrived at the main gate, fashionably late again, around 8.03am with new placards and new leaflets to hand out. I was actually thrilled at being able to distribute new leaflets to the troops. After 7 days of picketing this is the sort of stuff that brings joy. Also just the general chit-chat. I was given a copy of the USS consultative pamphlet that is now being distributed. Hopefully, if our action has done one thing it is to raise sufficient awareness among members and non-members such that they might actually read this pile of mis-information;

It’s in your mailbox, go and read it. You may have thought the proposed pension cuts were bad. Noooooo, just some wee minor alterations, nothing to get too worked up about. Seriously, read it. Anyway, today had a bit of a student theme. Down at Crichton Campus there was a student rally and some fantastic media coverage;

https://www.dgwgo.com/dumfries-galloway-news/dumfries-students-university-staff/

At Gilmorehill our ‘Student’s Supporting the Strike’ group had organised a Teach-in at the QMU.

And we had visitors from the Far East come to join us. We had some difficulty with their accents but the general message seemed to be one of shared struggle and solidarity.

Seriously though, huge thanks to SU for coming over to say hello. We really should pay a return visit. Maybe they were just doing research into how a West-end picket line is managed and catered for. Well BBQs of course;

At the close of play we had about 130 at the main gate. Another outstanding attendance and proof positive, if any was needed, that we stand strong and look forward to Day #9. We really are in uncharted territory here so who knows what could happen.

After the picket duty it was back to the office for a heat and the final wee bit of discussion with HR. At around 12.20 the message went out (from the COO) informing staff of the new position that Management were adopting with regards the 25% deductions. Also, strike pay to be docked over 3 pay periods. Overall, a very satisfactory end to day 8. Let’s hope that day 9 brings an even bigger win for UCU. Fingers crossed.

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Strike Day 7 – Tuesday 6th March – ‘twittergate’

Oooft, that was a cold one! 6 hours later and I’m starting to feel my toes again. Once again it was an amazing turnout. I was determined to get to the picket line first this morning as it seems that 8.05am is slacking at the GU lines. Today I got there almost on the stroke of 8am and was the 4th to arrive. Shameful performance for a Picket Supervisor. So let’s have a look at the early shift;

By 9am we were looking pretty healthy, if a little cold and wet. Spirits were kept up by recounting the twitter fiasco of the previous night. Briefly. UCU & UUK met on Monday. After the meeting UUK say, ‘see you on Wednesday’. Later in the evening UCU say, ‘we’ll stay as long as it takes and will talk anytime’, UUK respond with, ‘see you tomorrow’, UCU, ‘you said Wednesday’, UUK, ‘USS needs time to…..so it’s Wednesday’. And so on. I’ve only been using twitter in any serious form since this strike started and didn’t realise how entertaining it was. Anyway, that was what kept us going today, will they, won’t they? Meanwhile quite a few more had turned up for duty.

Then the big decision of the day. Stay at the main gate in case the Beeb turn up or cover all the holes in our security. What would Jack Bauer do? Easy, ‘create a perimeter’. So we did, Main Gate, Botany Gate and South Gate.

As any good general knows, an army marches on its stomach, which must make for slow progress, but anyway; that’s where the student support is utterly invaluable. Today we had tea, coffee, cakes. Soup of the day was lentil and kale and it wiz braw!

At our peak today we estimate 120 penguins. See Day6 blog for the penguin ref. Ok it’s not exactly Woodstock, but for Day #7 in the wind and rain and snow that is utterly stunning.

Speaking of rain and snow; our placards took a helluva beating today. That’s only the first batch so getting 7 full days out of them was pretty impressive. Whoever made that first batch was clearly a skilled artisan who clearly has a future elsewhere 👀. What’s the pension scheme for artisans like? However, not all placards are created equally and some go to great care to weatherproof theirs;

Others not so much!

To finish off the day we had a wee mini rally across the road where Jeanette outlined our community work plans and blood donation programme. We also had a right good chuckle at the twitter fiasco. But the great news of the day was that negotiations are back on. 12noon today and 3.30pm tomorrow, let’s hope there’s a breakthrough.

And finally it was off to the office for a heat and placard A&E. Here’s a shot of the placard fairies hard at work.

Some important events for the next couple of days. Tomorrow there will be a collection for the GU Red Alert Society.

https://www.facebook.com/GURedAlert/

The Staff Student Solidarity Group are hosting a Teach-in at Qudos in the QMU from 11am tomorrow

And on Thursday there is an event for International Women’s Day. Hillhead Library at 12noon with 4 fantastic speakers.

See you all for Day 8

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Strike Day 6 – Monday 5th March – ‘…..5,6,7,8, UUK Negotiate’

Today was a biggie. Would the action hold into a 3rd week? What would the turnout be? Will there be a breakthrough in negotiations? Would the BBC actually turn up as promised? Did Jeanette sort out the rat problem? (No that’s not a euphemism). The answers were, Yes, Huge, Don’t know, No & No. Lets focus on the positives. After a thrilling weekend on social media with UUK climb downs and u-turns galore, it was with great hope that I arrived at the main gate. By 8.15 it was looking pretty damn healthy.

This was a significant point in the campaign for me as it was Jeanette’s turn to be the ‘official’ picket supervisor. That means the Police have Jeanette listed as the responsible person for the remaining days. Words cannot convey my sense of relief! Right off the bat we are left in no doubt about the power shift on the ground.

Master & Apprentice. I’m certain that there is a 120 credit Industrial Action course here. All morning we check our twitter feeds waiting for news of a break-through. Nothing comes. Only the rain followed by more rain. On returning from the other side of the road, where it is absolutely freezing, I’m struck by how warm it is on the picket side. The penguin analogy comes to mind except that each penguin takes their turn on the outside. Picketers seem to relish their warmth a bit more and consequently our ‘penguins’ are rather static. And still it rains. On the upside, we have managed to get a full 6 days out of our placards. Although some will need to go to UCUG A&E.

Look out for some fresh placards tomorrow. Top marks for the ‘Academic placard’ complete with footnotes – pure quality BTW. By the end of the session we had well over 100 penguins, but is that enough to qualify as a ‘waddle’? Will need to check with the Zoologists.

After the picket we adjourned to the QM Committee room 1 for a discussion and to plan the days ahead.

Loads of good ideas were floated which covered student involvement, the ASOS/25% nonsense, community work & and blood donations – yes, blood donations. Our President demands more than just your presence 🙂 But all are agreed that it’s a good thing to do for the community. So, another great day of picketing and bonding. Given the solitary life that many academics lead, this has been truly refreshing and uplifting. Finally, let’s hear it for the students. Sure they don’t like the 8am start but we can maybe introduce afternoon shifts.

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Strike Day 5 – Wednesday 28th Feb – ‘The beast from the east’

Well we knew to expect snow but I sure wasn’t expecting this. The day began at 5.25am with a text from President Findlay – ‘phone me when you wake’. Feeling a little disoriented and anxious about slacking on the job, I called back immediately. After looking out the window we decided that walking and public transport was the safe option. The social media machine got fired up and messages were sent. Next thing was to get to the Main Gate for 8am.

The picket supervisor would not be deterred as GU could not call off in case Strathclyde fielded a strong team. #PicketEnvy. By 8.05am we had a reasonable team assembled.

Rumours started to go round that the Uni had closed. Then it was ‘students and staff told to stay away’ but buildings still open. So if the building’s open then the picket is on. By about 8.20 the line was looking pretty healthy.

At 8.28am, faced with astonishing resilience from UCUG picketers, the University had no option but to close. Dumfries Crichton also closed its doors.

We hung around until about 8.45 in case anyone else turned up and then left claiming a massive victory for direct action. The University will of course blame the weather, but we were there, we saw the impact we were having. That only leaves me to remind everyone that this strike is not just about lecturers. GTAs, administrators and other academic related staff are also out. To prove that, here are our picket line librarians.

And a final ‘Oscars Style’ striking selfie to finish a good day on the front lines

Arriving all the way from Stirling and a 2hour journey (Vice President) Iain Banks deserves a special mention. Unfortunately we had packed up by the time he arrived and he was on the road when we were sending out the messages that the Uni was closed. All hail #SolitaryPicketing exactly what the Trade Union Act 2016 aimed for.

Let’s hope the the ACAS led discussions go well. However, we fully expect to be out again on Monday and most of the week 3 strike days. Keep up to date on social media

@UCUGlasgow (on Twitter)

http://www.facebook.com/ucugla

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