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Open student/staff Q+A meeting to discuss the UCU ballot

Date correction: the meeting will take place on Wednesday, 9 March at 2PM in the Stephen Lawrence Committee Room.

Goldsmiths students choose a kettle for their University Challenge mascot


Well done for using a novel way of making a statement about the policing of student protests. Unfortunately, the BBC didn't get the joke. However, the Telegraph did credit students and staff at Goldsmiths for 'taking the lead in the anti-cuts movement'.


UCU votes yes for action

USS strike dates - next steps:

The USS negotiators have now had the opportunity to meet and discuss
options with the HE officers and have agreed to the following rolling plan
of action in response to the USS ballot result. The aim of your
negotiators is to bring the different nations out on strike on different
days  - building to a UK day of action on March 24th in order to maximise
the impact on the employers while also ensuring that no individual member be asked to take more than two days strike action over the period in defence of their pension. By setting action this far ahead your
negotiators are trying to give the employers every single, possible
opportunity to meet us and negotiate. Strike action will be an absolute
last resort after we have tried everything else.

Thursday 17th March – Scotland
Friday 18th March - Wales
Monday 21st March – Northern Ireland
Tuesday 22nd March – England
Thursday 24th – UK day of action

HE officers will meet again on the 9th march to consider how to coordinate any action arising from the jobs and pay ballot with the USS action.

HE 2010 annual claim ballot result
Members have voted to take strike action and in favour of action short of
a strike in the ballot on the 2010 annual claim. Overall 52.62% of those
who voted supported strike action while 73.53% supported action short of a strike. The turnout was 34%, again during a very short balloting period.

The UCU ballots close on 2 March. Make sure you send off your ballot papers today (28 February) as 2 March is NOT a postmark date.

HE/Cuts News items

If you have not read this already, see Browne's Gamble (LRB, Nov 2010

The future of public services under Cameron (read here)

The UCU ballots close on 2 March. Make sure you send off your ballot papers today (28 February) as 2 March is NOT a postmark date.

vote yes

Response to Chris Pearson's Email

You will have received an email from Chris Pearson yesterday urging you to vote no in the forthcoming ballots and encouraging those who do not have a vote to persuade their friends with votes also to vote no.

We believe that it is totally inappropriate to communicate with ALL staff
effectively asking them to interfere with a democratic ballot.

Many people will simply ignore Chris Pearson's comments and many others will think that they are likely simply to backfire on management. We will of course be formally asking for a "right to reply" but leave it to your discretion as to how you may wish to pursue the matter.

It is, however, worth noting several things for context:

Nowhere in CP's comments does he mention that these are NATIONAL ballots; Nowhere does he give us an indication of the salary sacrifices that SMT are presumably making in these hard times;

Nowhere does he acknowledge that UCU are prevented from using GC Info from putting our side of the story. Indeed when your reps formally asked management either to run a consultative ballot for all USS members at Goldsmiths on the proposed pension changes or to send out a GC Info with the UCU perspective, they refused. Only much later, after a request from an individual member, did they finally circulate at least some UCU information on USS reforms.

We all fully understand that the university sector, among others, is going
through a difficult period. We also understand that structural changes to
our pension scheme now will never be reversed. And there is absolutely no reason why employers should NOT be prepared to sign up to basic principles on avoiding redundancies that are no more than a simple fulfilment of good employment practice. Our Warden talks often about incentivising staff to deliver the innovative courses and practices that will help us grow out of this recession - a 0.4% increase in pay is more like a kick in the teeth.

This ballot is just as much about the future of Higher Education as the vote on fees. The students understand that and have voted to officially support the ballot (see their statement at http://www.goldsmithssu.org/blog/entry/45). It's shame that our management don't.

Ballot papers should be arriving from tomorrow. Please return them as soon as possible and, in the spirit of democratic debate amongst trade union members, urge your colleagues who may have a vote to use it to vote YES to industrial action to protect HE provision.

GUCU Executive

NOTE. If you have not received a ballot paper by Thursday 24 February, contact gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk.


16 Feb Teach-in all day at Goldsmiths, followed by public rally

Facebook event, with schedule here

Social/Community Work
RHB 274
With Claudia Bernard and Kalbir Shukra

RHB 256
With Sanjay Seth & Carl Levy

With Des Freedman, Natalie Fenton, Sara Ahmed, James Curran

With Eliza Jane Darling, Roger Sansi, & David Graeber

RHB 274
With Matthew Fuller & Nikita Mazurov

With Mojisola Adebayo

Cultural Studies

RHB 256
With John Hutnyk

RHB 274
With Bev Skeggs, Les Back, Nirmal Puwar, Vic Seidler, David Oswell, Alberto Toscano

RHB 256
Maggie Pitfield, Vicky Obied, Charmian Kenner, John Wadsworth, Clare Kelly


RHB 137a
With Susan Kelly, David Mabb & Ben


Final Rally: “The Birth of a New Movement”
Ian Gulland Lecture Theatre
With Tariq Ali, Caroline Lucas MP, Clare Solomon (ULU President), Bindz Patel
(Goldsmiths SU President), Des Freedman (Goldsmiths UCU Secretary)

Minutes from 10 Feb General Meeting

The minutes are now online and you can view them here.

UCU General Meeting 10 Feb 1PM
RHB 142

Agenda (please note change in order)
1. National ballots (speaker: Michael MacNeil, head of HE, UCU)
2. Report from the Warden's meeting
3. Congress Motions
4. Anti Cuts Campaigning (including the 'Radical Goldsmiths' teach-in)
5. Lewisham TUC



Congress notes that:

• The Government’s white paper, 'The Importance of Teaching', proposes that Initial Teacher Education (ITE) takes place almost exclusively in ‘training schools’;

•        The proposed model characterises teaching as an activity that
involves the transmission of a set of skills learned best ‘on the job’.

Congress believes that:

•        This is not only an ideological battle about the nature of
teaching but also a cost-cutting exercise that will bring about huge job
losses and the closure of many university education departments;
•        These changes have to be seen in the context of the attack on
arts and humanities courses, the rise in student fees and increasing
privatisation across all sectors of education.

Congress resolves to:

•        Oppose the plans for ITE as outlined in the white paper
•        Resist the closure of education departments and fight the loss of
jobs that will result from these proposals.

Proposed:  Clare Kelly
Seconded:  Maggie Pitfield


Congress expresses its profound appreciation for the student movement’s role in the campaign against the government’s destructive plans for FE and HE.

Congress notes that:

•        Hugh Orde, ACPO President, has threatened to inflict “extreme
tactics” upon those protesting against cuts and tuition fees rises;
•        Extreme tactics are already widely in use.

Congress opposes actions by the government to criminalise protest including:

•        Kettling tactics which violate the right to freedom of assembly and
movement and contribute to inciting violence;
•        State surveillance of HE/FE institutions for eliciting
intelligence regarding protest activities, or promoting the stigmatisation
and criminalisation of immigrants;
•        Conflating protest with terrorism;
•        Incommensurate prison sentences for protesters convicted of
crimes committed during demonstrations.

Congress urges all branches to work closely with local student bodies and to organise joint initiatives such as rallies, teach-ins and lobbies to
oppose the education cuts and their implementation locally.

Proposed: Eliza Darling
Seconded: Des Freedman


Goldsmiths UCU response to the
UKBA consultation on Student Visas

You can download it here.


This is about so much more than pay!  
Vote yes to defend Higher Education 


From 17 Feb to 2 March, the UCU will hold two ballots for industrial action.

They are nationally co-ordinated ballots that will affect members at Goldsmiths:
1) on our 2010 claim
2) on proposed changes to the USS pensions scheme

Why are we balloting?

You will have received an email on Friday from the Director HR that states that 'UCU has not accepted the pay award and remain in dispute with higher education employers.' It isn't the case that UCU has not accepted a 'pay award'(which in any case is a pay CUT in real terms) but it is the case that university employers have failed in any meaningful way to meet our full claim which involves issues concerning job security and equality as well as pay. These ballots go far behind a narrow preoccupation with our salaries.

Job security under attack

The university sector is in the worst crisis for a generation. Thousands of jobs have already been lost and up to 40,000 more could be at risk as the government has pledged to cut 80% from the teaching budget. The problem is that instead of standing up to government cuts, our employers seen resigned merely to go along with them.

Crucially, for the second year running, the employers have refused to negotiate a nationally-agreed approach to improving job security and defending provision.

They have also failed to address equality issues raised in our claim and offered nothing but a real-terms pay cut.

UCU has not been demanding the impossible. We have merely sought protections that already exist in other sectors such as ensuring early and improved consultation with UCU, a properly supported redeployment system and the right to access regional or national redeployment between institutions. All that is missing is the will on the part of the employers.

This is an attack on the union. If university employers, including Goldsmiths, are allowed to succeed, members should be in no doubt that the attacks on jobs, terms and conditions and pay will be endless and remorseless.

Pensions under attack

In addition, the employers are now openly attacking staff pension schemes. University employers are pushing on with their proposals to downgrade the USS pension scheme in spite of their massive rejection by USS members in two online ballots and despite the fact that the scheme continues to grow and is in good health.

Education under attack

This dispute is not just about jobs and pay or pensions. It’s not just rising fees that damage access to high quality education. Everything that makes it possible to recruit and retain the best staff and to deliver the highest quality teaching and research is under attack. Every cut damages and degrades the quality of education in the UK. The consequences of these attacks will be felt not just by every UCU member, but by every person who seeks to benefit from higher education in the UK.

This is why we need your support.

VOTE YES in the ballot on pay and jobs, and YES in the ballot on pensions.

Read more about the national ballot in HE here.

If you have not received your ballot papers by 24 February 2011 email gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk.


Demonstrate Against Education
Cuts on 29 January

The march on Saturday, the 29th of January will be the first big march of
the year against education cuts; it is backed by UCU, PCS, UNISON HE, London Student Assembly, the Education Activists Network and the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts. Please try to make it and encourage others to attend.

There will be 2 meeting points:

10AM outside the entrance to the Main Building at Goldsmiths (for SE London residents)

12PM at the Malet Street/Torrington Place junction (look for the
Goldsmiths Students' Union and UCU banners).

If you can't find us, call 07852474256

Download a poster here



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