General Meeting February 2011

Goldsmiths UCU General Meeting minutes, 10th February 2011

Apologies: DG, ED, JW, MCH, SK
Present: 25 people

1) National Ballot (Michael MacNeil, National Head of HE, UCU)
We re-served notice on the employer. There will be a recommendation to vote yes for both strike action and action short of a strike. We are now facing a huge threat to publicly funded services. The employers are not only responding to the cuts but are using the cuts as an opportunity to weaken a fair deal at the bargaining table. We have been locked into a series of disputes for months. The first is with UCEA on the national claim. The second is connected to the employer’s pensions forum. There was failure to reach agreement on USS. The employer
is proposing unnecessary changes and has failed to negotiate with us. We need to send a message back to the employer.

Issues:
Job security: They are refusing to engage with the joint union claim on job security, when potentially 40,000 jobs are at risk. We are asking for agreement on meaningful consultation before staffing cuts are considered. There should be an avoidance of compulsory redundancy. We are looking for a national set of guidelines on the job security crisis.

Equality: No agreement on assimilating hourly paid staff onto the pay spine, and closing the gender pay gap.

Pay: 0.4% offer, which is a pay cut in real terms.

USS: Changes to USS. Existing and new members could lose significant amounts of money of proposals go through. The employer is saying that they are necessary in order to keep the pension viable, but this isn’t true. They are refusing to match inflation, making it easier to sack people between 50 and 60. Their ultimate aim is to reduce their contribution from 16% to 10%. They have come in with some concessions on the rejoin and re-entry scheme, but there are no concessions on the calculation of the CARE scheme.

We have a choice – we can either take action or retreat. We need to challenge the idea that universities can be run on the cheap.

Questions/Comments:

-We need to make a stronger case in the media about the importance of taking action.
-The danger of winning the pensions vote and losing the pay vote – we need to get the vote out for BOTH ballots.
-We need to build a sense of momentum, so it’s not just around narrowly defined issue. We need to get the word out!

ACTION POINTS
Departmental statements urging people to vote for action will be drawn up based on a template.

Contact the Students’ Union to ask for a solidarity statement and organise a meeting for students..

People need to get the vote out within departments – by calling departmental UCU meetings, getting people to speak about the ballot at departmental meetings, and any other means.

2. Report from Warden’s Open Meeting

Departmental restructuring was discussed in terms of efficiency, not cost savings. Reassurances given about avoiding compulsory redundancies, but no pledge.

3. Motions

Motion on Initial Teacher Education: passed unanimously.

Motion on the Criminalisation of Dissent and Solidarity with Students: passed unanimously.

4. Lewisham TUC: Postponed to the next meeting

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