Messages of solidarity for industrial action

Please accept solidarity greetings from EIS members here in Glasgow LA for your current strike period.

If there is anything we can do to provide support please don’t hesitate to ask.

PCS sends solidarity greetings to your members who are taking 14 days of industrial action during February and March.

We have circulated details of the picket lines and the rally tomorrow to all our Scottish branches and asked them to support if they can during the duration of the action.

We hope that the University authorities will recognise that they need to get back round the negotiating table to get all of these issues resolved as quickly as possible. In the meantime PCS members stand with UCU members in their fight to get a resolution.

Yours in solidarity

Cay Boyd                                                     Sharon Edwards

National Officer                                       Scotland Committee Chair

Sending Solidarity to all taking part in strikes.

I will be raising with my local branch of RMT.


Janet Cassidy

On behalf of the CWU Edinburgh Dundee & Borders Branch we send a strong message of solidarity to our sisters and brothers in UCU who continue to challenge the injustice around pension terms and the impact on the workforce.

Details of the 14 days strike have been shared with all Officers and we hope to stand together with you shoulder to shoulder where practically possible.

In solidarity


Pat Rafferty, Unite Scottish secretary has expressed his unions full support and solidarity with all those involved in industrial action at 13 universities across Scotland over the next two weeks.

This latest round of strike days will take the total to 22 days of action which shows the level of commitment and collective strength in fighting for improvements on pay, working conditions, pensions and workloads.

The action is solid despite attempts by universities to disrupt the action. Support has also come from students who recognise that an attack on lecturers working conditions is an attack on their learning conditions.

It is time for university vice-chancellors to step down from their ivory towers and make a decent and fair offer which will resolve this ongoing dispute once and for all.


Please convey a message of support and solidarity to all UCU members in their struggle.

From Unite members, Officers and staff in Fife, Tayside, and Aberdeen.

Dear Colleagues

On behalf of Usdaw’s Scottish Divisional Council  and our many members that are studying at the various universities and colleagues that UCU members work in, Usdaw would like to send our best wishes and solidarity for  your current industrial action.

Dear Colleagues

Solidarity Greetings

On behalf of GMB Scotland solidarity greetings to all UCU members involved in strike action.

Very best wishes to everyone in the struggle.

Yours in solidarity.

Yours sincerely

Gary Smith

GMB Scotland Secretary

Just a note to wish UCU all the best in current action and dispute

Regards Arthur West Secretary on behalf of Kilmarnock and Loudoun Trades Union Council

UCU Scotland president’s letter to trades councils

UCU Scotland president, Carlo Morelli, wrote to trades councils ahead of the UCU strike action starting up in most institutions again on Thursday 20 February 2020.  The text of his letter is below:

As President of UCU Scotland I am writing to you on behalf of the University and College Union (UCU) in advance of our 14 days of strike action across UK universities with an appeal to you to organise solidarity with your local striking UCU branch. We will be taking strike action from Thursday 20th February until Friday 20th March (individual UCU branches will have some variation of strike dates within this period)
With 60,000 members in 74 universities joining the strike action solidarity will be crucial. We need local trade unionists to visit our picket lines and invite our striking members to come and speak to local union branch meetings. Encouraging local trade union branches to twin with their local UCU branch would be an excellent way to maximise solidarity. UCU will be launching an appeal to the trade union movement to help us create a £1m strike fund. Many local UCU branches will also be organising local strike funds which local branches can donate to.

UCU’s strikes are for all trade unionists. Our strikes are over issues affecting the whole of the trade union movement and members of all trade unions should know about them. We are striking in defence of pensions in the older (pre-92) universities whereby employers and the USS pension management are seeking to wreck a well-funded and sustainable pension scheme. There are billions of pounds to be made in commissions by the private sector in conning vulnerable workers out of their defined benefit pension, as can be seen by the disgraceful blundering of individual pensioners’ pensions in the British Steel pension scheme in 2019. University employers too aim to see the reduction in contributions by the closure of the USS scheme. The destruction of a secure retirement is at the heart of the USS pension dispute.

Across both older and newer (post-92) universities UCU is also on strike over our pay and conditions, referred to as our ‘Four Fights’ dispute. We have had a below inflation pay offer imposed which over the past ten years means real pay has fallen by 15-20%. At the same time managements ensure they pay themselves exorbitant salaries. It will only be a short while before the first Vice Chancellor or Principle of a university is paid £500,000. Over and above overall pay employers commitments to end the gender and race pay gaps has led to no change in universities. Women are paid 16% less across the sector than men. In other groups facing discrimination it is worse still. The third and fourth elements of the ‘four fights’ relate to casualization and excessive workloads in universities. Higher education in the UK is now, along with the hospitality and hotel industry the most casualised sector in the UK with zero hour contracts widespread and outsourcing expanding. Finally, excessive workloads is creating a crisis of ill-health in universities for staff. Most staff do not even have a contractual limit on their working week with ‘the hours to complete the tasks assigned’ being the definition of expected working time.

UCU Scotland would be grateful if your Trades Union Council led the call for solidarity in your area and campaigned for solidarity with the UCU branch at the university in your area.

Below is a list of the UCU branches taking action and the link to the UCU website where further details of the dates of strike action in your local university can be found.
Yours in solidarity

Carlo Morelli
UCU Scotland President

Scottish UCU branches taking action:
University of Aberdeen
Scottish Association of Marine Science (Oban)
University of Dundee
University of St Andrews
University of Stirling
Heriot-Watt University
Open University (Scotland)
University of Edinburgh
Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
University of Glasgow
University of Strathclyde
Glasgow Caledonian University
Glasgow School of Art

UCU details of the strike:

Step forward sister!

This article by UCU’s Scotland official Mary Senior appeared in the Scottish Left Review. 

My comrade and sister, Lynn Henderson of PCS, is leading a crucial initiative to advance women’s representation within trade union ranks – from the shop floor, to the leaders within our movement.   Given the continued under-representation of half of the population within the upper echelons of trade unions, this is a vital initiative.

It’s just over 20 years since I was a fresh-faced union officer in a general union.   I’d got through the first 25 years of my life without facing any real barriers, or discrimination. Then I began working in our movement.  One of my earlier encounters was being greeted by a male visitor to the union’s Scottish HQ with “and whose secretary are you?”   Of course a young female employee couldn’t be a full time union official…

Fortunately the movement has made progress.   My current union – the University and College Union – was ably led by the indomitable Sally Hunt, and this year elected industrial relations academic Jo Grady with a massive landslide on one of the highest turn outs – an election where two of the three candidates were women.   UCU’s officer elections have led to strong young women – Vicky Blake and Lena Wånggren – taking on the vice president positions at UK and Scottish levels, and next year Nita Sanghera becomes our first Black president.   With some tremendous roles models in past presidents including Vicky Knight and Ann Gow, all should be looking bright shouldn’t it?   Well, a UCU Scotland Executive meeting in May, where female reps were thin on the ground, underlined that we cannot be complacent, and Lynn’s “Step Forward Sister” initiative is needed just as much in UCU as in the wider movement.

Ten years of Tory austerity has hammered our public services, our economy, workplaces and the environment.  Inequality is increasing.  Trade unions are leading the fight back, and must draw on the experiences of the breadth of our movement to be effective.  Women, BME workers, young workers, disabled workers, LGBT+ workers, all strengthen our resistance, and empower us to tackle inequality and oppression.

Women put the issues on our agenda that matter to workers and families.  We all benefit from greater equality at work – tackling the gender and race pay gaps, delivering better work-life balance, or addressing mental health at work.  The STUC Women’s Conference agenda underlines this, with its focus on child poverty, the menopause, and mental health.  It’s in all of our interests to have diversity amongst our trade union negotiators.  However, as one comrade said exasperatedly to me recently of her union: “why is our executive full of straight white men?”

Too many hurdles still remain, in the form of traditional male dominated cultures, and the lack of time and support for women and other under-represented groups to come forward.  Facility time is fundamental. The Tory Trade Union Act, with its facility time reporting requirements, aims to attack workers regardless of their gender, ethnicity or other attribute.

For women to step forward into union positions, we need facility time to be effective in the role. Trade unions and employers should be creative where part time workers step up to take on trade union duties. Facility time has to fit with variable working patterns, and, crucially, flexibility is needed so key workplace meetings and negotiations can be scheduled on the days when reps are around.  My union has a number of part time women in leading branch officer roles, but we face constant frustration with one employer who – in full knowledge of our rep’s working pattern – insists on holding negotiation meetings on her non-working day.

Unions need to explore new models for reps, including job-shares.  UCU’s Queen Margaret University branch has joint branch presidents in Oonagh O’Brien and Maria Giatsi Clausen who, with branch colleagues, successfully opposed compulsory redundancies this year.    It’s not easy job-sharing a union rep role; there’s always a need to keep in touch, report back, and ensure consistency in the union approach, particularly in difficult disputes.  But it’s not impossible, and sharing union roles enables part time workers – predominantly women – to have an important voice in the workplace, sharing the responsibilities, so a position is less daunting or unmanageable.

It goes without saying that we need to ensure our activities and training sessions are inclusive.  Union meetings over a pint are off-putting to people uncomfortable doing business this way.  Embracing new technology opens up our movement to more people. Video conferencing, online surveys and webinars can bring union learning and activities to people who’ve felt excluded in the past.  With more people working remotely and precariously, often the best way to organise is with new technology.

Finally we need to shift the tenor of the debate: in workplaces, on social media and in society at large – and the voices of women are key.  You don’t have to shout the loudest to get your point across, or to be an effective rep.   Kinder debate isn’t about backing down, or failing to tackle exploitation or discrimination.  Kinder debate is about approaching these challenges in an inclusive, reasoned way, targeting the oppressors rather than the oppressed.

Given the turbulent, divisive times in which we live, I worry that the prevailing narrative is too aggressive and bitter.  You only need to see the abuse politicians and others receive online – and all too often women are at the sharp end – to be put off from taking on representative positions.  As trade unionists our role is to unite working people, to show our common humanity and equality.  Women’s voices are central to doing so.

Motion for Hajra Bee and Abdul Jabbar Khan

UCU Scotland notes with sadness the recent deaths of two fearless and committed trade unionists, survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster and campaigners for justice: Hajra Bee and Abdul Jabbar Khan.

Hajra’s family moved to work as labourers in Bhopal. She became a local trade union leader in a tailoring centre after the disaster, and until her death was a leading activist in the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB).

Abdul Jabbar’s father was a textile mill worker who died as a result of the disaster. Jabbar helped organise the neighbourhood committees after the disaster and went on to lead the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan (BGPMUS).

Their fiery rhetoric and persistent campaigning will be missed, but the movement lives on.

UCU Scotland resolves to send condolences and messages of solidarity to their respective campaign groups in Bhopal: ICJB and BGPMUS.

Industrial Action – Messages of Solidarity


Dear Comrades

Solidarity and full support for all UCU members taking strike action.

You are fighting not only for current teaching staff but future generations.

In Comradeship

Tom Morrison


Clydebank TUC

Dear Colleagues

Solidarity greetings from GMB Scotland.  Very best wishes to all those taking part in the dispute.  

Very best wishes

Gary Smith

GMB Scotland Sectetary

Sending support to all  UCU strikers from Glasgow Local Association of the EIS.

We are right behind you and wish you every success in your campaign.


Susan Quinn

Glasgow Local Secretary

 I just wanted to send you a quick email to show support and indeed solidarity in your forced upon and fast approaching industrial action. We are a Public Services Branch within Local Government and know only to well of the slashes to terms and conditions and stress brought on by unsustainable cuts in the supposed austerity agenda that is doing nothing to provide services and being used to attack long fought for terms and conditions, all along paying for what multimillionaire bankers caused and then walked away with huge pensions.

We at GMB Branch 29 wish you a successful outcome with your struggle with the totally out of touch number crunchers and pen pushers who cut budgets with no idea of the real effects on services and staff.

In Solidarity

Brian Carson

GMB Glasgow Branch 29

Just a note to express support for UCU in current industrial action. Best wishes for a successful campaign

Arthur West Secretary – Kilmarnock and Loudoun Trades Union Council

PCS sends solidarity greetings to your members who are taking industrial action today in defence of pay, working conditions and pensions.

We hope that the University authorities will recognise that they need to get back round the negotiating table to get all of these issues resolved as quickly as possible. In the meantime PCS members stand with UCU members in their fight to get a resolution.

Yours in solidarity

Cay Boyd                                                     Sharon Edwards

National Officer                                       Scotland Committee Chair

On behalf of the Educational Institute of Scotland University Lecturers Association (EIS-ULA), I send solidarity greetings and support to colleagues in UCU Branches and members in Scotland who have begun strike action today in order to prevent a significant deterioration in USS pension benefits and further deterioration in the value of their pay.

Our members shared UCU members’ wish to strike over pay but, despite a majority in favour of strike action, anti-trade union laws prevent us from taking strike action to support the campaign with UCU colleagues.  The ULA Executive will be reviewing our next steps in our pay dispute.  Our Executive has also asked EIS-ULA branches to show solidarity with UCU picket lines.

We wish the UCU  members every success in their action, as we believe that sustained industrial action will see these damaging pension proposals halted and arrest the value in the fall of university staff pay.

In solidarity

Tom Keegan

EIS-ULA President

Chris Stephens, MP

Please pass on my best wishes and support to UCU members taking Industrial action today over pay, pensions and working conditions. 

UCU members are quite correct to stand up against employers who devalue the workforce and inspire others to take action in similar circumstances. 

I hope to visit a picket line over the next few days. 

I hope you are well, and please be advised that anything I can do to help will be done. 

Kind regards

Chris Stephens


Dear Colleagues,

Sending a message of support and solidarity to all striking UCU members from NASUWT members across Scotland.

Wishing you every success with your campaign.

In solidarity

Jane Peckham

NASUWT, Scotland National Official


2019 STUC Black Workers’ Conference

Report of the STUC Black Workers’ Conference by Talat Ahmed, UCU University of Edinburgh


The 23rd STUC Black Workers Conference met for its annual session 5-6 October. UCU delegates, Talat Ahmed and Femi Ilesanmi joined about 70 delegates from across the trade union movement in Scotland to discuss and debate issues of populist politics, increasing racism, threats of the far right and fascism, institutionalised racism and the labour movement’s role in combatting these. The UCU motion on building a mass movement against racism was unanimously passed with the conference reiterating its commitment to build, mobilise and provide speakers for the STUC St Andrew’s Day Anti-Racism March and Rally on 30 November 2019 and the Stand up to Racism, UN Anti-Racism Day march on 21 March 2020. Scotland is proud to have two national anti-racist demonstrations as part of its fabric.

As well as discussing motions on visas for international musicians and artists, the difference between ‘token diversity’ and anti-racist organising was emphasised. Sensitive issues of tackling homophobia within black and Asian communities was debated alongside strong condemnation of state policies and narratives that seek to divide, demonise and harm working people in our communities. Global issues of climate change and its impact on the global South such as in Bangladesh were powerful indictments of the current climate emergency. Conference also heard a motion and speech on the centenary of the Amritsar Massacre, when over 397 Indians were shot in cold blood on the orders a British General in April 1919. Thereby making the connection between past racisms and contemporary racism.

It was great too hear a speech by our own Mary Senior, STUC Vice-President, articulating the imperative of our movement tackling racism head on.

A special highlight was a talk by Sir Professor Geoff Palmer, Scotland’s first black professor. He stressed the value of diversity and representation

The evening before the conference, the annual Black History Month Lecture was delivered by Professor Satnam Virdee of Glasgow University who emphasised the need to reckon with race in our movement and society.


UCU pay, equalities, job security and workload and USS ballots – getting the vote out


UCU is currently balloting members on two ballots for industrial action. One ballot on pay, workload, casualisation and gender pay; and the other for members in the USS pension scheme. The union is working hard to secure ‘yes’ votes for both strike action and action short of strike in both ballots. Branches too are working tirelessly to ensure that the turnout is over the 50% required by legislation to allow members to push for better pay, working conditions and a fair pension. This blog post contains some of the highlights of the work taking place now and which members will continue to do in the run up to the ballot closing on 30 October.
Members from 8 branches from around Scotland met at the STUC in Glasgow in late August at a co-ordinating event called ‘Biting the Ballot’. After hearing an introduction from UCU Scotland president Carlo Morelli, the meeting heard from the union’s Scotland official Mary Senior along with the union’s Marion Hersh and Tim Wilson. The meeting also looked in detail at how to maximise turnout, hearing from Heriot-Watt branch who in the 2018 ballot managed to get turnout up to 64%. Following the presentations branches split into groups and identified key tasks to allow them to make their own get the vote out (GTVO) plans more successful. The weeks since have seen branches put this work into practice encouraging members to vote yes for action in all the ballots and drive up turnout over the 50% mark.
18 September saw Scotland play host to a ballot briefing where members heard from UCU’s general secretary Jo Grady. The multi-branch event, held again at the STUC in Glasgow, was well attended with branches going in depth into the substance and cause of the disputes and feeding back to the union nationally about the strength of feeling locally. As well as addressing the briefing, Jo Grady also visited branches across Scotland as part of her national tour. She met with members and addressed meetings in branches at Dundee, St Andrews, Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt, Strathclyde and Glasgow universities. Below are some pictures from the meetings:

The next few weeks will be critical in ensuring that we get the turnout and result we need to defend the USS pension and for a fair pay award and action on equality, workload and job security. For help and advice on GTVO work in your branch contact UCU Scotland Branch Development Officer Mike Williamson on