LGBT+ Conference – a request from Marion Hersh, UCU Scotland’s Equality Officer


Are you LGBT+?  Would you like to attend the STUC LGBT+ Conference (9-10 June, Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel, Clydebank) as a UCU delegate?  The conference is always very friendly and welcoming, about 50-60 people and a good opportunity to find out what other unions are doing on LGBT+ issues, network and make new friends.  There is a mixture of motions, workshop sessions and speakers.  Last year there was a very interesting session on using social media more effectively.  There is a buffet on the Friday night and a conference meal followed by a social on the Saturday night.  You can either stay in the conference hotel or ‘commute’ in and UCU covers all expenses.  The event is also accessible to disabled participants.   It would be good to grow the UCU delegation and see some new faces on it.  Worried that you have not been a members for the last 100 years, can’t recite all the countries that have equal marriage and when it was introduced – not a problem.  New members, GTAs and other members on casualised contracts, Black and disabled members – all very welcome.  You just need to identify as LGBT+.     Please contact  by  18 April  to express an interest or ask questions.
Marion Hersh
UCU Scotland Equality Officer

USS motion at the Scottish Labour Party Conference

On Saturday 10 March, Marion Sporing – a member of Dundee University UCU – seconded a motion at the Scottish Labour Party conference on the USS strike.  The text of her speech is copied here:

“On Thursday we celebrated International Women’s Day, standing alongside colleagues here at Dundee University on the picket line- the 9th day over the past 3 weeks, instead of doing our usual jobs.

We were not along- we stood with colleagues on picket lines across universities in Scotland and all over the UK to defend our pension.

Our dispute with the employers’ organisation Universities UK is not over- next week we start a full week of strikes- this is the biggest university strike in the UK we have ever seen.

Instead of teaching, researching, looking after IT systems, libraries, student services, recruitment- dealing with the vast array of tasks we normally do- we have been braving the snow, ice and rain which the weather has thrown at us- to make our stance clear.

(We suspected that UUK had conspired with the weather gods to keep us off the picket line, but it did not work!!)

Our stance is very clear and understood by everyone, except the employers.

We have the support of our students who have been standing alongside us, the unions, the Labour party and members of the public- as everybody can relate to the importance of having a fair pension to be able to retire in dignity.

Cutting £10,000 each year in retirement off the pension is an outrage!


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One of my students wrote in support: I know that we will win this, together, because we cannot afford to lose!

We have not yet won. Talks with ACAS are ongoing- we got the employers back to the negotiating table, demonstrating that industrial action had an effect. But we need to keep the pressure up and continue industrial action- if necessary, affecting the exam period after Easter.

The employers need to listen to our concerns. This is not just a fight for pensions in the university sector, but for the right to a fair pension in all sectors, for all workers.

The attacks on our pensions, wages and working conditions are carried out under the camouflage of the austerity agenda. We need to rebut the attack on hard won workers’ rights not just for us, but also for the future.

I would like to finish with some words, loosely based on work by the author Wolfgang Borchert:

When they come and tell you that there is a deficit in the pension scheme

And you need to pay MORE, but get LESS when you retire

Say NO

When they come and tell you that your students will suffer and that it is your fault because you are on strike

Say NO

When they come and tell you that there is no money and that we have to rely on the performance of the stock market ,

Just Say NO

When they come and tell you that universities are businesses and that students have to pay for their education

Just say NO

Because, because

If we don’t say NO and fight back and stand in solidarity we will all lose.

In this spirit, I ask Conference to support the motion.”

A member’s view – USS strike action

UCU member Dr Kendra Briken wrote the article below about why members are striking to defend the USS pension, what it means to take strike action, and why the support of students is so important.  The article was first published on the STUC’s blog:


On the eve of the industrial action by UCU members, Dr Kendra Briken describes why the strike has already started at Strathclyde University.

Strike action does not start on the picket lines. Strike action starts the moment the ballot paper is on your desk. It starts with the first discussions over coffee, in the corridors, or on the streets, and with your colleagues. The questions emerge, evolving through different iterations: What is your strike? What is our strike?

Going on strike means to collectively withdraw labour, to cause a disruption, and to become visible in our demands, but to exercise this leverage in the education sector is challenging. Going on strike in academia, if it is to be visible, necessarily includes to withdraw our labour from our workplace: from lecture theatres, libraries, IT, open plan and other offices.

Our becoming visible means to intervene into the space we most care about: education. In doing so, we will ultimately impact the ones we most care about: our students. We act against our own impulses, and we know that our demand has to be translatable to the ones we do impact in this strike action. So that is why. Our strike is an open invitation to education. Over recent weeks the call for strike action has opened up a new space, an opportunity to reconstitute collectivity, and to enhance general levels of sociability. Our strike is a social strike in that we started talking, organising, and even more importantly listening carefully to each other’s anxiety, fears, and exhaustions. Work intensification, competition, performance management, and casualisation is something experienced by both university staff and students. We realised and discussed how this has changed our social relations at work, how we barely talk to each other anymore outside of the lecture theatre. Our encounter is more and more transferred into the two dimensional spaces of standardised feedback forms, rankings, and ratings.

Going on strike will allow us to further discover collectivity and to gain a much better understanding of our experiences, what divides us now but can be shared in the future. We made visible the hidden potential of solidarity with staff – those on different contracts, from other faculties, in between professionals and academics – and most importantly, with our students.

In this, our strike is a demand, and at the same time it is the careful search for alternatives. Teach-ins, music sessions, fundraisers, going to a bookstore or having exchanges over coffee, these activities are far from disrupting education. If learning is based on making new experiences, the strike is an offer to our students to join us in a different form of education. We disrupt and withdraw our labour but we are still at work, and create while we disrupt; we too are learning as we go.

Our strike doesn’t start at the picket lines. Our strike has started already. The overwhelming and immediate support of the students’ unions is one obvious dimension.

On Thursday, we will meet at the pickets, and our strike has long begun. Our strike action is an open invitation to education. This is our strike.

The UCU strike starts on the 22nd February and will take place over the following weeks. For more information about the strike visit the UCU website. Strike demonstrations will take place in Glasgow and Dundee on 22nd February, and Edinburgh on 26th February.

UCU Scotland Congress 2018

Dear colleague,

UCU Scotland’s Annual Congress takes place at the Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel, Clydebank  on Friday 23 March 2017.  This is the annual conference where members in Scotland get the opportunity to debate current issues and shape the policies of our union.  Themes for this year’s Congress include tackling stress, workload and bullying, gender based violence, and,  of course, discussions will take place around the Union’s fight to protect the USS pension scheme given members voted overwhelming to defend your pension in the recent industrial action ballot.    As well as the important business of considering motions that will set UCU’s policy and objectives, Congress is also a great social occasion and a good opportunity to meet colleagues from around Scotland.

All of our branches based within Scottish higher education institutions  send delegates from amongst their members to Congress.   If you would like to participate, please get in touch with your local UCU branch (delegation costs are met by the Union).  You can find your branch contact at this link:  Alternatively you can contact UCU Scotland directly –  – for more information or if you’re unsure of who to contact locally.

We would like to ensure that all branches have full delegations and that we are representative of all of our members.

I hope to see you at Scotland Congress.



Mary Senior

Scotland Official

UCU Scotland Office

STUC Women’s Conference Oct 30-31st, 2017 Glenrothes, Fife : Summary by Ann Gow, UCU Scotland President

UCU Scotland were well-represented by four delegates, Ann Gow, Janice Aitken, Lena Wagg and Antje Brown at the 90th Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) Annual Women’s Conference in Glenrothes in October, with over 200 trade union members, campaign exhibitors, visitors and guests taking time to consider the priorities for campaigns in the year ahead.

STUC Women's Conference 2017 held at Rothes Halls, Glenrothes.

(Photograph: 2017 STUC Women’s Conference – Fraser Band)

Delegates from trade unions, trade union councils, workplaces and communities across Scotland contributed to debates on many different issues grouped into six main topics: Economy and Employment, Increasing Women’s Representation and Participation, Education and Lifelong Learning, Social Justice, Health and Combatting Violence Against Women.  UCU Scotland moved and seconded motions on the Gender Pay Gap and Making Women’s Voices Heard in Public Policy Debates on Science and Technology with delegates speaking to topics such as menopause matters at work and sexual harassment in the workplace. All our motions and amendments were passed by Conference, with strong support for tackling these issues.

We not only heard in-depth discussion from conference debates but also had the delight of hearing from a variety of guest speakers, such as Kathleen Walker Shaw, from GMB on Brexit and Beyond, Beth Davies, Chair, Wales TUC Equality Committee, Sofi Taylor, STUC Black Workers’ Committee and Jackie Ballie MSP, Scottish Labour Spokesperson for Economy, Business and Tourism. One highlight for myself included the Union into Schools project with contributions from school pupils on issues such as period poverty. It was inspiring listening to these young women’s powerful contributions and left us feeling more positive for future work. The open discussion about period poverty was also a particular highlight, raising awareness that poverty, health conditions and a lack of access to sanitary products all make managing menstruation difficult. It was really refreshing to hear this campaign supported so openly by all speakers, reflecting what the women’s’ movement can do so positively.

This annual conference is a really positive experience and one that I’d encourage any UCU Scotland woman member to attend.

UCU Scotland conference looks at the future of Scottish higher education.

On 26 October members of UCU from across Scotland gathered at Strathclyde University to attend a conference organised by the union’s education committee titled ‘What next for Scottish Higher Education?’  You can follow the links on the contributors’ names below to go to the video of their contribution.

The sold out conference chaired by UCU Scotland President, Ann Gow, and vice-president, Eurig Scandrett, heard a number of key note speeches with highlights including Professor John Holmwood of the campaign for the public university and author of the alternative white paper talking on the future of higher education and the impact of marketisation on the sector in a session called ‘What are universities for?’.  The conference also heard form NUS Scotland’s vice president education, Jodie Waite, who also sat on a panel discussion on widening access and funding along with UCU Scotland’s Mary Senior and Lucy Hunter Blackburn.  UCU UK president Joanna de Groot also spoke and delegates heard a pre-recorded interview with Scotland’s fair access commissioner (and, we learnt, former AUT and now UCU member) Peter Scott.  The afternoon session heard from Professor Terence Karran, the co-author of research on academic freedom in the UK, who talked through the research and its findings with a particular focus on the Scottish aspects.  Delegates also took part in workshops looking at HE and Brexit, governance, and workplace issues, before finally hearing from senior civil servant Roddy Macdonald on the Scottish government’s priorities for higher education and STUC assistant general secretary Helen Martin on the new code of good HE governance.

Unfortunately we were hit by technical gremlins with the sound desk blowing just before the conference began.  While the sound isn’t perfect on every video you should be able to hear the contributions clearly enough.

ed conf

STUC Black History Month Lecture

The STUC Black History Month Lecture is  due to take place on Friday 6th October at the STUC Centre.  Registration for the event is from 5.30pm, with the lecture beginning at 6pm.

As part of Show Racism the Red Card’s Wear Red Day #WRD17,  all attendees are encouraged to wear red to the lecture as a mark of solidarity.  There will be a collection to raise funds for Show Racism the Red Card’s campaign on the day.

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