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

Action on climate change: UCU’s call for a 30 minute stoppage on 20 September in support of the climate change school strike; supporting presentation slides and draft letter on divestment.

In line with motions passed at UK UCU congress, UCU has submitted a motion to TUC congress in September calling for unions and student associations to hold 30 minutes stoppages in solidarity with the global school strike for climate justice on 20 September.  You can find more about UCU’s call here.

UCU Scotland president, Carlo Morelli, has produced the presentation below for branches to use as a base for raising awareness of the action and UCU’s call:

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Climate strike slides_007

There is also a supporting video here.

Carlo has also produced the draft letter below for branches to send to their institution’s principal calling for pension fund disinvestment.  The letter includes details of those institutions who have already divested.

Dear Principal,

Re: Divestment of Pension Fund

I’m writing on behalf of UCU, which represents academic and professional services staff across our university, to request that you take steps to divest the university’s endowment from all fossil fuel companies. UCU has policy calling for all universities to ask the Pension fund to start divestment.

On 19 May 2019, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a state of climate emergency. This followed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in October 2018 which demanded ‘rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society’ in less than 12 years (before 2030) to meet the demands to the 2015 Paris Agreement and keep global temperature increases below 1.5°C warming, and therefore avoid total climate breakdown and mass extinction.

Removing investment for fossil fuel companies is a key part of the changes that are necessary in this relatively short period of time. We all must do our bit. Already, across the UK and Ireland, more than 70 universities have divested their endowments. You can see the full list on the People & Planet website here:
In Scotland, nearly all of our major universities have now committed to divestment:
Glasgow University in 2014, Queen Margaret University and Heriot-Watt University in 2015, Abertay Dundee and University of the West of Scotland in 2016, University of St Andrews in 2017, University of Edinburgh in 2018 and University of Stirling earlier this year.

Others shamefully are being left behind. As more and more young people become aware of the devastating impact extracting and burning fossil fuels is having on our climate, the fact that all universities in Scotland have still not committed to disinvesting in fossil fuels does not make sense. It is not good for Higher Education’s public image, nor for maintaining our educational values, nor in terms of good business sense as carbon reduction legislation kicks in and these investments become ‘stranded assets’. What is more divestment is an incredibly simple process and will signal the direction universities intend to move in terms of meeting our obligations to reduce our impact and fight climate change.

Many Fund Managers now have ethical/fossil free schemes, which make divestment incredibly simple. All you need do is give the instruction, they will do the rest. People & Planet have suggested universities use Sarasin to complete their divestments. We therefore request that you ensure that ethical/fossil free investment is at the core of your decisions over which Fund Manager to recruit.

We would be keen to come to discuss this urgent issue with you further.

We look forward to the university taking responsibility for its own impact on the environment and committing to divest in the near future.

Best regards,



Blog by UCU member Mari-Cruz Garcia: ‘Keeping British Universities international: what has immigration ever done to us?’

UCU member Mari-Cruz García is a digital education consultant who has lived in the UK for 18 years. She has been equality officer at Dundee University UCU and she is a delegate at the Consejo de Residentes Españoles en el Norte del Reino Unido, representing the Spanish citizens in the EU27 Representative Group of the EU Exit Office of the Home Office.  She wrote the blog below on ‘Keeping British Universities international; what has immigration ever done to us?’ for the blog of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) … ‘Keeping British Universities international: what has immigration ever done to us by’ Mari-Cruz Garcia




8th Annual STUC LGBT+ Conference Report

Photo of Lena and Sylvia

By Dr Lena Wånggren

At the end of May (25-26), when most UCU officers were participating in the UCU UK national congress in Harrogate, UCU Scotland were represented by Lena Wånggren (UCU Edinburgh and UCU Scotland Vice President) and Sylvia Morgan (UCU Glasgow) at the 8th annual Scottish Trade Union Congress LGBT+ Workers’ Conference held in Clydebank, Glasgow. It was two days of debating motions, attending workshops (one on dementia care for older LGBT+ people, and one on improving trans rights and equality), and moving forward to represent and improve working conditions for LGBT+ members.

UCU Scotland delegates moved motions on anti-casualisation and improved research and university teaching on LGBT+ issues, and spoke in support of a number of motions e.g. on support for LGBT mental health (amending the motion proposed by Fire Brigades Union). Other motions included work against homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia; intersectionality in the LGBT+ movement; tackling LGBT+ hate crime and discrimination; improving inclusive language; social media; outlawing LGBT+ ‘cure’ therapy; ending new HIV transmissions; supporting LGBT+ education; and supporting LGBT+ people internationally.

Two motions were specifically supported by a large number of speakers from different unions: the first motion that called for STUC to support battling a transphobic society, proposed by Unite the Union Scotland, which included figures that ‘according to Stonewall Scotland, one in eight trans employees have been physically attacked at work, and 51 percent of trans people have hidden their identity at work for fear of discrimination’; the second motion, proposed by the Fire Brigades Union, concerned support for LGBT mental health, and noted that according to research ‘LGBT people are up to three times more likely to suffer from mental health conditions than the rest of society’, with a further stigma for these workers connected to sexuality and gender identity.

Guest speakers and workshop facilitators at the conference included Mary Senior, STUC Vice President (and UCU Scotland official), Christina McKelvie MSP (Minister for Older People and Equalities), Helen Wright (Scottish Queer International Film Festival), Ciara Maguire (Outside the Box, with Scottish Pensioners’ Forum), James Morton (Scottish Trans Alliance), and Linda Ford (STUC Disableed Workers’ Committee).

It was a busy but great two days, with much solidarity and equality work.