General Meeting, January 2013

Goldsmiths UCU Branch General Meeting, 16th January 2013
12:30pm, Ian Gulland Lecture Theatre

1. Lewisham Hospital
2. Teacher Education
3. Professional Services Consultation
4. Promotions
5. VT Negotiations
6. Solidarity and Collection for Halesowen UCU
7. AOB

Lewisham Hospital (guest speaker Pat Sikorski [PS])

PS joined us from the community campaign to Save Lewisham Hospital.

PS noted that £1.1billion cuts were planned, as a way of paying of PFI debts from other hospitals. Hundreds of clinical staff will lose jobs and A&E, Intensive Care and some children and maternity services will face closure, causing an immediate danger to local people and commuters and paving the way for privatisation. PS described the success of the campaign so far in terms of gaining support and publicity, with 10,000 people at the last demo and plans to make the next demonstration, Saturday 26th January 2013, even bigger.

The Goldsmiths Students Union have planned a feeder march meeting outside the RHB at 11:30am on the day of the march.

A motion of solidarity was passed unanimously, with the exec agreeing to match members’ donations to a collection.

Donations to the campaign should be sent by internal mail to Ben Osborn, UCU Office, 32 Lewisham Way, Goldsmiths (London SE14 6NW) by next Monday. All donations received will be considered to relate to both item 1 and item 6, and will be split between the two collections.

Teacher Education

Clare Kelly (CK) reported on a nationwide policy regarding teacher training in HE. The 2010 White Paper recommended that HE should cut its links with school teacher education, which  is now being rushed through. The government’s preferred model is ‘School Direct’, which means that schools are allocated places and then bid for services from HE Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Departments, despite OFSTED reports showing that HE ITE departments provide the best trained teachers. The Teaching Agency has been allocating drastically less ITE places to Education departments in HE institutions, with some institutions (including Goldsmiths) receiving zero allocations (though the Warden was able to argue successfully against this). This represents a serious financial problem for Education departments, which rely on the government funding that ITE allocations provide, and is likely to lead to departmental closures and large scale redundancies if unchecked. It will affect not just Education departments but all university departments if these needed funds are not provided, so is an urgent issue for members from across the university.

CK and Maggie Pitfield (MP, not present) have urged action from UCU and although a motion they presented at the HE conference was passed unanimously, it was not properly discussed and as a result no action has yet been planned. CK and MP are continuing their fight about this, and UCU’s head of HE Michael MacNeil will be addressing our General Meeting in March to report on the issue.

Professional Services Consultation

JW reported that the College is planning to restructure professional services and has therefore started a formal consultation with the unions. We have met once and are awaiting draft job descriptions for the new senior posts before the next series of meetings. We have been promised that the restructuring does not involve any redundancies. The initial consultation document is at: http://www.gold.ac.uk/staff/restructuring-professional-services/

Promotions

Documents seen by DF and JW and some other members regarding promotions have raised several concerns, which DF and JW were planning to raise at the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) later that day. Despite written management promises to the contrary, these newly drafted guidelines link, in our view, promotions to the Research Excellence Framework (REF). We welcome the new procedures for applying for accelerated and discretionary increments but there is still no transparency about the criteria for assessing applications for promotion for non-academic staff.

VT negotiations

Neither Ben Levitas nor Natalie Fenton, who are negotiating this on behalf of GUCU, were present. However, there have been several meetings with management and we are hoping for the process to be concluded this term.

Solidarity and Collection for Halesowen UCU

Following a recap of the situation at Halesowen UCU, a motion of solidarity was passed unanimously by the branch. with the exec agreeing to match members’ donations to a collection.
Donations to the campaign should be sent by internal mail to Ben Osborn, UCU Office, 32 Lewisham Way, Goldsmiths (London SE14 6NW) by next Monday.

All donations received will be considered to relate to both item 1 and item 6, and will be split between the two collections.

Members are urged to sign the petition at http://tinyurl.com/Halesowen4.

AOB.

a) Exec Committee
The new Exec Committee is now officially elected, with JW being allowed an additional year as President (an exception to normal GUCU constitutional guidelines). The Committee is as follows:

President John Wadsworth Educational Studies j.wadsworth@gold.ac.uk
Secretary Des Freedman Media & Communications d.freedman@gold.ac.uk
Treasurer Frances Renton IT Services f.renton@gold.ac.uk
Membership Tom Henri Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies t.henri@gold.ac.uk
Casework Coordinator Pamela Beevers p.beevers@gold.ac.uk
Part-time/Hourly Paid Rep Branden Donegan Anthropology brendandonegan@hotmail.com
Co-opted Member Ben Levitas Theatre & Performance b.levitas@gold.ac.uk
Co-opted Member Natalie Fenton Media & Communications n.fenton@gold.ac.uk
Health & Safety Rep Vacany
Health & Safety Rep Amanda Kipling Educational Studies a.kipling@gold.ac.uk
Equalities Rep Deirdre Osborne Drama d.osborne@gold.ac.uk
Learning Rep Vacancy
Branch Administrator Ben Osborn gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk

b) Ebacc

UCU is formally opposed to Gove’s proposed Ebacc, which disregards humanities and the arts in favour of an outmoded curriculum, though no campaign exists as of yet. Many Goldsmiths staff signed a letter to the press opposing the Ebacc. The Ebacc threatens Goldsmiths culture and admissions process – as admissions are often based on arts subjects grades. DF has drafted a motion for UCU congress, and hopes that Goldsmiths can be a strong voice against Ebacc.

c) PBIS

Brendan Donegan (BD) drew attention to meetings last year regarding the monitoring of international students, and suggested that the issue be looked at on a departmental level, as procedures differ from department to department. This was agreed, so any case studies of how your department deals with PBIS and issues you are facing in terms of carrying out non-compliance should be sent to gucu-adminATgold.ac.uk.

d) Anti-Casualisation / Postgraduates Teaching

Jamie Woodcock (JW), postgrad UCU member and NUS member, noted that the UCU Anti-Casualisation Committee had called for a day of action on March 6th. He also noted that NUS have done a survey into postgraduates who are teaching, information that could be useful for UCU here, with data expected soon. JW and BD to liaise on this.

e) Motion to affiliate to Lewisham TUC unanimously passed.

Administrator to arrange affiliation fees to be paid.

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