STATEMENT TO HEFCE ON STATUS OF EU NATIONALS by Goldsmiths College, UCU & UNISON

We value the huge contribution to academic life at Goldsmiths made by our staff who are citizens of other EU countries and believe that higher education is all the stronger for the presence of EU nationals in this country. Goldsmiths has benefited from the experience of people who came to the UK precisely because they saw it as a welcoming place for minorities and as a home for progressive, creative and critical research. London has long been a hub for diverse populations, including LGBTQ people from across the EU and Goldsmiths’ staff and student body is representative of these migrant populations.

However, the uncertainty following the EU referendum places staff who are EU nationals but who do not currently have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK in a specifically vulnerable position. We are aware that many members of staff in this position are feeling very anxious. Some may choose to look for employment elsewhere while others may find themselves having to apply for the right to continue working while at Goldsmiths.

Meanwhile, new rules for permanent residency in the UK privilege a conventional employment history and personal circumstances that potentially discriminate against those who have had more precarious working lives and come from less traditional backgrounds. As an institution that specializes in the creative industries, Goldsmiths could be particularly affected by the rigid imposition of such rules.

The legal position is extremely unclear. The government has not yet guaranteed that once negotiations are concluded, EU citizens residing in the UK will be permitted to stay. However, during the referendum campaign, both official Leave campaigns pledged that such citizens would “automatically” be given this right, i.e. be given ILR.

This uncertainty in residency status following the referendum helps no one. We believe that the government needs to guarantee the right to remain in the UK to those EU citizens living and working in the UK.

For politicians, there are good grounds for acceding to this call. The UK can ill afford to lose EU workers. Processing three million individual ILR applications is not feasible in the timescale available. Making this pledge would reduce the threat of a reciprocal deportation of 1.3 million British people from Europe. Finally, in the current febrile atmosphere, it would represent a clear line against those who would wish to blame migration for economic ills.

We call on HEFCE to lobby vigorously and immediately for the government to clarify the situation and to confirm that EU nationals working in the UK will be given indefinite right to remain.

Goldsmiths, University of London

Goldsmiths UCU

Goldsmiths Unison

GOLDSMITHS UNIONS’ STATEMENT ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Goldsmiths UCU, Unison and Students Union wish to acknowledge the fantastic work done by individuals in the Centre for Feminist Research and elsewhere to challenge sexual harassment on campus. We regret that the College’s response to date has not been able to deal adequately with the problem and we urge them, from this point on, to be proactive and open in addressing issues of sexual harassment. We acknowledge the Deputy Warden’s open letter on barriers to equality, and on the issue of sexual harassment in particular, and we urge the College to enter into wider dialogue with all staff and students about these concerns and to improve systems and processes for reporting, investigating and dealing with harassment at all levels across the College.

We believe that such issues can never be fully addressed on a quick-fix basis but rather require ongoing and active commitment to bring about changes in practices and behaviour. The campus unions have an important role to play in this work and also have much to learn and to contribute. Sexual harassment is intolerable and unacceptable. We urge people never to stay silent about these issues and to contact us with any suggestions about how we can best move forward to ensure that sexual harassment has no place on our campus.

Why are lecturers on strike this week? An open letter to Goldsmiths students.

FairPayDear Goldsmiths students

The University College Union (UCU) has called a national strike for 25-26 May, Wednesday and Thursday this week. Many academics and support staff will be cancelling all teaching, administration and office hours on both days. This is a way to put pressure on universities to meet our demands.

Why is the strike happening?

Ultimately the strike is about the future of higher education across the country. In particular, lecturers are making three key demands.

  • end the shocking gender pay gap in the profession. Women working as academics earn much less than their male counterparts. Nationally in Higher Education, the pay gap is 12.6% More details
  • greatly reduce the proportion of staff on insecure contracts like fixed-term posts and zero hours contracts. 75,000 members of university staff nationally are on these sorts of contracts.
  • a pay raise of 5%, to begin to make up for the erosion of our pay by inflation. Academics’ pay has fallen by 14.5% in real terms since 2009. Imagine what you’d do with a 14.5% cut in your loan or your own wages. Imagine what friends or family who are working would say to a 14.5% cut. We’re not asking for a real terms raise, just one that keeps pace with the rising cost of living. The universities have offered us just 1.1%!

Doesn’t a strike just hurt the students?

It is not the intention of your lecturers for their industrial action to impact adversely on their students, and we do all we can to ensure this doesn’t happen. Just like the junior doctors, sometimes it is necessary to withdraw our labour temporarily to demonstrate to our employers what an important job we do all day every day. The aim of the strike is to ensure better quality education for all involved, in a university that actually puts gender equality into practice, so that students can be well taught by lecturers who are given adequate time to prepare for classes and receive a fair wage in return.

Lecturers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions!

It’s austerity, everyone’s taking a pay cut

Except they aren’t. Last week the Times Higher Education magazine published the latest round of pay increases for vice-chancellors (VCs) and principals which showed an annual increase in pay and benefits of 6.1% for those at the top (excluding pensions) with one in five universities giving their leaders a rise of 10% or more.

The average salary of university Vice-Chancellors is now more than a quarter of a million pounds. At Goldsmiths the Warden’s parlay is £232,000 a 100% increase on the 2004-5 figure.  

This dispute is part of a larger fight about the political and financial priorities of our institutions. It comes in the wake of the government’s Education White Paper which threatens to further entrench the marketization of education while devaluing those who teach and contribute to learning and saddling students with yet more debt.

We need a united fight back.

What students can do?

You can sign this petition, organised by a group of students nationally https://www.change.org/p/petition-support-fair-pay-for-our-university-staff

On Wednesday and Thursday the UCU will be asking everybody not to cross the picket line. A picket line is a symbolic barrier. When a picket line is in place your lecturers (who are on strike) ask you not to make use of university buildings or services. Whether or not to cross a picket line is entirely your decision. We ask you to make sure, however, that it is an informed decision.

On strikes in previous years, many students came themselves to the picket line as supporters, to show their solidarity with the staff and discuss our mutual goal of securing quality and freely accessible education for all, provided by well-paid and valued staff.

We will be holding a teach out from 11am on both days outside the library and hope you will join us and participate. (see full details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1045220088899213/)

Vote YES to action on Pay – Ballot open now – Vote by May 4

UCUPayCampaignLocal-page-001In response to the employers’ inadequate offer of 1% pay award, UCU are balloting you to seek a mandate for industrial action.  Goldsmiths UCU exec urge you to vote YES to strike action and YES to action short of a strike. You need to vote before May 4th.

Here are reasons you we believe you should vote for industrial action:

The cost of living is rising: 1% does not come near the increase to our cost of living, particularly when you consider housing costs in London.

Our pay is in decline: Changes to THE way you pay National Insurance and ADDITIONAL pension costs will come into effect next month.  This means that on average, our members will each be £70/month worse off. A 1% pay increase will not offset this loss.

Your salary is now worth 14.5% less in real terms than it was in 2009.

HE sector is in surplus: The fact is that we’re not a cash poor sector. Universities had a record surplus last year of £1.8 billion – mostly because of the numbers of students paying the £9000 fees. OK, Goldsmiths isn’t like Oxford (which a surplus of £191 million) or Imperial (with a surplus of £143 million) but we need to stand together with our colleagues across the country to make sure we all get the pay we deserve.

Challenging inequalities and casualisation: And that means challenging existing inequalities – like the outrage of the gender pay gap and the scandal of so many people on fixed- term contracts (and in some universities on zero hours contracts).

We need to send the employers a strong message that we are not prepared to accept the miserly 1% offer nor the continuing inequalities in pay so vote YES to industrial action.

More information https://www.ucu.org.uk/whyshouldivote

Or contact your branch gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk

Note: 

UCUHE/272 informs branches and LA’s of letters received from HEI’s challenging the pay dispute for 2016 – 2017. UCU’s standard response to those institutions forms part of this circular:

http://www.ucu.org.uk/circ/pdf/UCUHE272.pdf

http://www.ucu.org.uk/circ/rtf/UCUHE272.rtf

 

The Gold Paper

GovernanceAfter a series of discussions and contributions by staff and students to the draft gold paper we are pleased to publish an updated copy of the Gold Paper:

https://goldsmithsucu.wordpress.com/the-gold-paper/

Thanks to everyone who has given their input so far.

The Gold Paper begins from two ambitions: to restate our purpose and reclaim a vision of the public university that is disappearing from view in the midst of the increasing marketisation of HE, while also offering pragmatic steps towards its achievement beginning with what we do at Goldsmiths.

For this to work it must be a grass roots endeavour involving everyone from porters to professors; it must be a collaborative process.

To contribute your ideas email n.fenton@gold.ac.uk (head the email Gold Paper).

Lobby of College Council: We’ll also be lobbying the College Council on Thursday 14 April with a simple demand that College Council timetable a discussion with staff and students on the GOLD PAPER at the next meeting.

Full details: https://www.facebook.com/events/1737849283127184/ 

Printed copies of the Gold Paper will soon be available. Email gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk if you would like some.

 

THURS 14 APRIL LOBBY GOLDSMITHS COLLEGE COUNCIL Cut the Rent / The Gold Paper

Tribunal Lobby

Thurs 14 April, 3.45pm, Outside PSH 326

Pre-meet 3pm Rm PSH 305 – all welcome

Cut the Rent

The Cut the Rent campaign started by Goldsmiths students has highlighted the unbearable pressures being placed on students who cannot access affordable and decent accommodation at our institution. Their demands: that rent not be above half the maintenance grant and that halls should be safe, secure and liveable – in a manner recommended by the housing Charity SHELTER – is indicative of the increasing barriers facing students trying to pursue studies in the context of the aggressive marketisation of Higher Education.

Against these conditions, we believe that Goldsmiths should be taking a lead in managing rent at an actually affordable level and refusing to allow the “invisible hand of the market” to strangle students’ life-chances.

We call on college council to agree to student demands for a fair rent and safe, secure, liveable accommodation

The Gold Paper

The current housing issue goes to the heart of a wider set of destructive “reforms” being imposed on the sector which threaten to uproot the notion of the public university: transforming the very ethos of learning, research and academic freedom and generating escalating pressures of debt, increased work load and deteriorating conditions on staff and students.

In the wake of the Green Paper which has signaled more of the same, many staff and students believe now is the time to assert a different vision of education and begin to develop an alternative set of principles and practices that can make our college one we are proud of: one which can also pose a powerful alternative at a national level.

Initiatives such as the People’s Tribunal and now the draft GOLD PAPER seek to engage the widest number of staff and students in developing such an alternative.  A draft of the GOLD PAPER can be read here: https://goldsmithsucu.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/the-gold-paper-a-first-draft-and-call-for-participation-and-submissions/

A central issue running through is how we democratise the way decisions are made about the running of our university and the principles that should underpin those decisions.

Our simple demand is that College Council timetable a discussion with staff and students on the GOLD PAPER at the next College Council meeting.

We are appealing to staff and students to join us to lobby college council members on the importance and seriousness of both issues.

There will be a pre-meet 3pm in room PSH 305 

Rent Strike: Goldsmiths UCU supports students campaigning for affordable housing

WatsonCutRentSupport the Rent Strike!

Goldsmiths UCU branch sends greetings to all students now undertaking rent strike in student halls of residence in Goldsmiths and across London.

Why are these rent strikes happening?

– Massive funding cuts to universities mean revenue streams are being sought from parts of the university that should be treated as non-profit.

– UK students have been robbed of what all of their European counterparts get: an education at no cost, with education as a common good. Treating students as consumers rather than learners and researchers creates a perverse incentive for universities.

– The student maintenance grant is tiny and doesn’t match the cost of living let alone paying exorbitant rent. The question of whether to rent strike or not is irrelevant when the rent is too high to be paid. Therefore – Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay!

– Private operators offering higher price, lower quality housing see students as a goldmine. These chipboard slumlords have no place near universities.

Against these conditions, the whole University of London, with Goldsmiths taking a lead, should manage rent at an actually affordable level – not one where the “invisible hand of the market” strangles students’ life-chances.

Goldsmiths UCU fully supports our students in their struggle to make rent reasonable.
As a matter of urgency, all the problems with water systems and with kitchen equipment should be resolved immediately.

Goldsmiths UCU supports our NUS branch when they say:
-Students should have an affordable, good quality standard of living.
-A student’s maintenance loan should cover their cost of living, rent should be no more than half of that loan.