Acronyms abound…

However, a reminder that tomorrow at 17:30 is the GSA UCU AGM. You should have received all login details for Zoom in the last Branch email.

Tomorrow’s agenda:

Welcome from the Chair

Apologies from Committee members

1. [Motion] Adoption of Local Rules – Thomas Greenough, Branch Secretary
2. [Motion] Appointment of local Branch Officers (COVID Response)
3. Branch Report – Thomas Greenough, Branch Secretary
4. Membership Report – Digger Nutter, Membership Officer
5. GSA UCU Health and Safety report – Jenny Brownrigg – Health and Safety Officer
6. GSA UCU Accounts – Christina McBride, Treasurer
7. Future Campaigns
8. Dates of Future Meetings
9. AOB


How to work from home…

There are a few very simple steps to make working from home as productive as possible without feeling isolated.

Make communication the top priority.

Download Zoom: This is a free video-conferencing platform – for both mobiles/tablets and computers.

We in the UCU Committee also use Slack: as a workspace messaging system. There are reports of the Microsoft Office 365 platform for messaging failing.

There is always skype, but it seems that multi-users are only available at a cost.

Loneliness with remote working is the most reported issue – keep up communications with your colleagues. If you are a line manager keep regular Zoom meetings in the diary.

Face to face interactions are key to remote working, we cannot stress this enough.

It is still your job, treat it as such – you are still working

Set yourself your work hours. Remember you are still in ASOS – so it’s a 7 hour day. But give yourself your hour for lunch, and make sure you take regular breaks from the computer screen.

However, and this is as important – do not overwork. Do not suddenly find yourself still at your new desk at 8pm at night. Time management is very important.

You may be communicating with students via video, make sure you have a structure in place for this. We are aware that online crits and tutorials are being planned – please share good practice with your colleagues.

Transfer all your files to OneDrive as you will not be able to access your shared drive from home – that or Google Drive. This means you can access your files anywhere you may be.

OneDrive is part of the Office 365 installation – but for those of you on a Mac, you will need to access it through a web browser. Though be mindful of GDPR issues, and don’t store anything with personal data on unencrypted shared platforms. Google Drive and DropBox are encrypted, and Mega supply a totally encrypted platform.

Work/Life balance

Working from home can be hard, to begin with, it does require some discipline, and we cannot rely on management helping us. Those of you with children will also have childcare issues once the schools are closed and the whole family is at home.

If you only have one computer in the household, the needs of others have to be taken into consideration. But not all work is computer-based.

Also, look after yourself – create a space that is ergonomically well laid out. The kitchen table is better than a laptop in bed.

And most of all, take care of your health – keep to the advice given by the health professionals and keep social distancing.


UCU coronavirus advice

Guidance for members on coronavirus and their rights at work.

1. What is corona virus?

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new strain discovered in 2019 which had not been previously identified in humans. The primary symptoms are a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back and a new, continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly.

2. What should I do if I think I or someone I live with may have these symptoms?

The government is asking that if you or anyone in your household has one of those two symptoms, then you should stay at home for fourteen days. That means that if possible you should not go out even to buy food or essentials, other than for exercise, and in that case at a safe distance from others. If necessary, you should ask for help from others for your daily necessities. And if that is not possible, then you should do what you can to limit your social contact when you leave the house to get supplies.

3. What advice has the government given to the general population?

On 16 March 2020 the government asked that everyone stop non-essential contact with others and stop all unnecessary travel. They have asked that people start working from home where they possibly can and avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues. The government say that avoiding all unnecessary social contact, is particularly important for people over 70, for pregnant women and for those with underlying health conditions.

4. Has the government issued any specific advice for colleges and universities?

Advice issued on 16 March states that ‘unless you have been directly advised to close by the local Public Health England Health Protection Team, we recommend all education settings remain open.’ Further, the government states that ‘in most cases, closure of the educational setting will not be needed but this will be a local decision based on various factors such as establishment size and risk of further spread.’

5. What is UCU calling for?

UCU believes that with regard to universities and colleges the government’s advice does not go far enough. We are calling for universities and colleges to shut down their core functions, particularly those which involve face-to-face interaction or bring large numbers of people together. We recognise that some university and college infrastructure should stay open, including student accommodation and, where agreed with staff, medical research units. The exact pattern of closures will vary depending upon the institution but its parameters should be agreed with UCU and other staff trade unions which prioritise the safety of students and staff.

6. If I am at work what steps can I take to limit the spread of the virus?

Because it’s a new illness, nobody yet knows exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person. Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets, or via hard surfaces infected with the virus. It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (eg, type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment). If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

The government advises that you:

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • avoid touching your eyes and nose as far as possible.

7. I am a UCU member on strike as part of the USS and/or Four Fights disputes. What should I do?

Members in a small number of institutions are still on strike on some days up to 27 March. In order to protect members’ health, UCU has determined not to hold pickets on strike days but members in those institutions on strike are asked NOT to work.

8. My university or college has asked me to provide online learning or supervision to students?

Many universities are proposing to move away from face to face teaching or supervision in response to the virus. Where staff are instructed individually or as part of an institution’s general policy to work from home and provide support ‘online’ for students our legal advice is that this will generally constitute a reasonable request.

In the current crisis staff will want to do their best for their students including by providing, where possible, instruction and advice online. However, institutions need to set out clearly how and with what equipment this interaction will take place. The size of this task is one reason why UCU has called for institutions to pause between the shut down of face to face teaching and the onset of an online offer. This period would allow the institution to agree how online learning will operate with UCU and give staff enough time to prepare suitable materials for an online environment and also for the union to agree safeguarding of members’ intellectual property and performance rights (see below).

9. My employer has declared business as usual, what should I do?

Where the policy of institutions is to remain fully open and continue face to face interaction as usual you should protect your health by limiting your attendance at the institution to the minimum. Where it is logistically possible and not contrary to the institution’s general policy you should consider online or other alternatives to large gatherings of students or staff. If a meeting is non-urgent or unnecessary you should cancel it if it is within your power or propose cancellation to those leading the meeting if it is not.

10. What responsibilities do institutions have regarding my health?

It is an employer’s duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and other people who might be affected by their business. Employers must do whatever is reasonably practicable to achieve this. This means making sure that workers and others are protected from anything that may cause harm, effectively controlling any risks to injury or health that could arise in the workplace. Employers have duties under health and safety law to assess risks in the workplace. Risk assessments should be carried out that address all risks that might cause harm in your workplace. Employers must give you information about the risks in your workplace and how you are protected, also instruct and train you on how to deal with the risks. Employers must consult employees on health and safety issues. Consultation must be either direct or through a safety representative that is either elected by the workforce or appointed by a trade union. If you have doubts about any aspects of your institution’s planning for coronavirus with specific regard to your health you should raise your concern directly with your manager and make sure your local UCU branch representative is copied in.

11. What should I do if I feel unwell?

If you feel unwell with symptoms of the coronavirus you should self-isolate in line with the advice in question 2. If you feel ill in any other way you should err on the side of caution at this time and inform your employer that you are unwell and will be off work.

12. I am on a casual contract, what are my rights if classes do not take place?

Non-salaried staff are sometimes not paid if for any reason their classes do not take place or they fall sick. UCU has called for all staff in this situation to be paid as normal based on their regular patterns of work. This is not only fair but will also assist in limiting the spread of the virus.

13. What should I do if I am asked to do something that I consider dangerous?

There is a general legal duty, set out within Section 7 of the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act to ‘take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work’. If arising from your institution’s coronavirus policy you believe that you or those in your care are in danger’ you should raise the issue directly with your immediate line manager and seek their instruction and also immediately contact your local UCU branch. There is a further legal right to leave the workplace, under Section 44 of the 1996 Employment Rights Act, ‘in circumstances of danger which the employee reasonably believed to be serious and imminent and which he could not reasonably have been expected to avert’. However, the legal bar for such action is high and heavily dependent on the particular circumstances; members should therefore seek advice from the union BEFORE they do this.

14. I have been asked to record a lecture or class for playback off campus to students?

Staff should take care to ensure that any recording of a lecture or class is subject to an agreement between UCU and the institution before they agree to allow the archiving of any recording. Where no agreement exists and the terms and conditions of lecture capture are inadequate to protect your rights, members should not sign such terms and should set out clearly that any recordings they make can only be used with their permission and that permission is granted only for the duration of the current crisis. Your local branch will be able to advise you further on any local policies that exist.

15. I have been asked to work but I am in a vulnerable group. What should I do?

The government has indicated that those aged 70 or over are particularly vulnerable to catching the coronavirus. If you are aged over 70 you should contact your line manager to request that you not be required to work in situations that involve face to face work and if this request is refused you should raise the matter with your local UCU branch. If you are under 70 but have a relevant underlying health condition or are pregnant you should make a similar approach and ensure you let the union know if your request is refused.

16. I am an international member of staff or student on a visa. How would non-attendance due to coronavirus affect me?

We are also asking all employers to notify all relevant staff of the revised Home Office guidance regarding absence of those on Tier 2, 4 and 5 visas due to coronavirus. We have also written to employers to seek their assurance that, in line with the recently revised guidance from the Home Office, they will not take any visa compliance action against students or employees who are unable to attend their studies/work as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

17. I am due to travel outside the UK as part for my work. What should I do?

If you are a member of a vulnerable group you should not travel unless it is absolutely necessary. For work related travel you should consider whether the trip would be better postponed and, if not, seek the advice of the Foreign Office on the Coronavirus situation in the country that you are travelling to.

18. Am I allowed to give students advice about not attending face to face lectures or classes?

You have a general duty of care to students. If they have coronavirus symptoms you should ask them to inform the institution that they need to self-isolate. If they are member of a vulnerable group (over 70 or with an underlying health condition) you should advise them not to attend large gatherings in person.


3 Days to Go!

National Issues – Local Pressure 
Despite wet and windy weather today, our picketers covered Reid, Stow, Bourdon, Haldane and Blythswood. 

Committee Member Graham Ramsay’s GSA UCU lanyards have inspired other members’ suggestions for bespoke branch materials from stickers to Top Trump Cards.

Picketers have been speaking to members about the importance of the All OUT THURSDAY picket in the morning with our EIS colleagues.

Positive feedback from the picket line is that members are committed to send a strong #FourFights message on Thursday.

Is there more money on the table?

Currently GSA statement is that they are in engagement with UCEA.

UCU GSA agree that engagement is a good first step.
But what we would like to to see is a positive statement of support.

Where does this leave us?
Like many institutions we don’t have a clear picture of what the GSA position is.

What is clear is the majority of staff are in favour of a deal that goes some way to reversing the significant loss of income we have experienced over the past 10 years.


One week to go and good news on local hardship access

Well done to the stalwarts, and hello to the new faces…

We have the final week of the industrial action in the coming week, and there are a few emails coming members way that you should watch out for. These will list specific action and joint involvement with EIS and the student association.

Also, we have now created an online form for all local GSA Hardship claims. It is being tested at present, and you, as members, will be receiving the link to this via your registered email within the next week. Do remember, that the committee are volunteers and we will be processing the claims as we have time, we are not an automated system, as much as we’ve tried to streamline it online, it still needs some human input and checks to be run.

To remind you, if you have taken part in the present industrial action, and can upload a payslip or screengrab of payslip, showing the deduction of two or more days pay made by GSA, we will give you £100 from out local fund.

Again, thanks to sister unions who have helped on the picket line, and of course to the massive support from GSA students.


Day 3 Done – And the cake game was strong!


Day 3 Done – 11 Remaining!
Today we had a strong group out in force and were able to have Picket Lines outside the Reid, Stow, Haldane and the Bourdon.
Fuelled up by coffee and rolls from ‘The Monkey’, plus a great selection of baked goods from our supporters, we had a fine morning. 
Keep on movin’
 If you haven’t done so already please come and join us, it’d be great to see you.
Strike as many days as you can.
Picket as many days as you can – 1 or 2 makes all the difference!
Let us know if you intend to picket below – makes planning easier.
Picket Sign Up

UCU Scotland are organising a UCU Scotland RALLY on Tuesday 25 February at THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT, Edinburgh.
Assemble from 12.30 pm. 
Speakers at 1.00 pm including from UCU Scotland, NUS Scotland, the STUC, EIS and MSPs. 
Join UCU colleagues from across Scotland.
Branches are asked to bring banners. 
Coming to your inbox soonHardship fund
Further FAQ
Guide to ASOS
How to support the action from the inside
Tomorrow Nicky Bird & Graham Ramsay will be your Picket Coordinators.
EIS will be out tomorrow as well.

If you have questions around the dispute, make sure you ask them and they will be able to help. If not they can pass on your question to the committee. 
Some Top Tips if you are planning to join the Picket Line: 
Weather forecast for Tuesday.
3ºC feels like 0ºC, Rain/Snow, wind gust up to  20mph
Waterproof coats and trousers are seriously recommended
Plenty of layers will help to keep you warm
Put on at least two pairs of socks – cold toes help nobody
Bring a flask of hot drink – hot drinks will be provided but time can vary
Keep moving

On the eve of the strike

In this post you will find:
Details about tomorrow 
Picket Survey
Strike FAQ
Details for day 1
Tomorrow is the first day of Strike action and we will be on the Picket Line from 8.30 am till 1 pm. Meet outside the Vic doors as before (sadly closed at the moment).
If you are joining the picket dress for the weather!
If you are ASOSing come past and say hi!.
If you have any questions, observations, photos, or stories you would like to share please email Digger and they can be included in the daily strike updates.
If you are picketing Graham Ramsay and Christina McBride will be your Picket Coordinators, make sure you say hello and get your armband.
Picket Survey
Please let the branch know when you intend to Picket.
This will help us manage and prepare for the picket line.
We have Picket Supervisors for all days so we can picket on all strike days.
The survey will remain open throughout the action so please update if you need to.
Picket Survey
Do I have to strike?
No. You are asked by UCU to strike, and you may have voted to strike, but it’s not a requirement to strike. 

Do I have to picket?
No. If you strike it is reasonable to assume that you are prepared to show that you have chosen to withdraw your labour by supporting a picket line outside your place of work, GSA-UCU wants to maintain a picket presence for the duration of the strike so needs the support of members – however, everyone has the right to choose.

Can I cross the picket line?
Yes, it is possible to cross the picket line. No picket will impede or cause distress to anyone crossing.

Why are we striking on these dates?
The dates are agreed by the UCU Higher Education Committee (HEC). The dates chosen match the UCU industrial action for USS pensions that other branches are taking, so the hope is that both actions support each other. The dates are implemented nationally, there is an option to adjust some dates locally to avoid reading weeks, GSA does not have a reading week so no adjustment was taken.
Coming to your inbox soon:
Hardship fund
FAQ on action
Guide to ASOS

Posters and Placards


Members Meeting – Monday 17th Feb – 5pm

Join us on Monday 17th February 5 pm Reid Lecture Theatre.  

Agenda below.
If you can’t make it and have any comment, thoughts, feedback please get in touch.
Members Meeting
The following agenda is for the members meeting on 17th Feb – 5 pm – Reid Lecture Theatre:


1. Introduction

a. Disputes update
b. Strike dates reminder
c. EIS result
d. Branch Committee roles

2. Hardship Fund
a. Local hardship fund established
b. Claiming UCU Hardship Fund

3. Information for students 
a. Materials on further strike action
b. ‘Teach Out’ information

4. In the run-up to strike 
a. Strike stats local branch
b. Registering impact

5. Strike practicalities
a. Picket Co-ordinators
b. Rota
c. Key dates
d. Placards

6. Other information
a. Re-ballot update
b. Reminder UCU trustees, national officer and NEC elections – voting closes 4 March

7. AOB 
If you have anything to add to the AOB item, please get in touch.
UCU update: So far this week you will have received emails from both Joe Grady (Monday 10th Feb) and Vicky Blake (Tuesday 11th Feb) with updates and answers to members questions. 

These emails provide a useful insight into the context and current progress.
Coming to your inbox soon:           
Strike survey + Strike team
Hardship fund
FAQ on action
Guide to ASOS
Current voting for NEC and HEC
Thanks for taking the time to read – keep an eye on your inbox for more details soon.

GSA UCU Committee.

Four Fights – Strike Information

In this post you will find out about the upcoming industrial action, how you can help, details on a members meeting and what other info you can expect to receive over the next week.
A quick update from the November Strike: Over 50% of members participated in one or more days of strike action in November. That’s a great effort and looks good for the forthcoming action. Well done!
Strike dates: Seventy-four UK universities will be faced with a total of 14 days of strike action in February and March. The action will start on Thursday 20 February and escalate in length each week, culminating with a week-long walkout from Monday 9 to Friday 13 March. 
Week One – Thursday 20 & Friday 21 February
Week Two – Monday 24, Tuesday 25 & Wednesday 26 February
Week Three – Monday 2, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4 & Thursday 5 March
Week Four – Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 & Friday 13 March
EIS have voted to take industrial action:Read more about their strike action here There 5 strike days will overlap with UCU strike days.
URGENT ASSISTANCE NEEDED: If we want to picket we need your help.
We need PICKET COORDINATORS, we can not picket if we do not have them. 

Your role is to be a point of contact and to make sure that good picketing etiquette is followed. It is a legal requirement to have this named contact. 

If you are available to take on this role please respond to with your name, mobile phone number and what dates you can cover. If you would like further information on the role please get in touch. 
Members Meeting: We will be holding a members meeting to plan for the upcoming action along with updating members with ongoing branch news.
Date and agenda to be announced shortly.
Upcoming Ballot on Further Action: UCU has decided to ballot members on taking further industrial action after the upcoming 14 days. The current mandate to take action is soon to expire, to enable UCU to keep up the pressure in negotiations they will be seeking for members to approve future action should they and the employers not be able to agree a deal.
Coming to your inbox soon:           • Strike survey + Strike team• Hardship fund• FAQ on action• Guide to ASOS• Current voting for NEC and HEC
Thanks for taking the time to read – keep an eye on your inbox for more details soon.

GSA UCU Committee.