General meeting, June 2013

Goldsmiths UCU Branch General Meeting, 11 June 2013
1pm RHB150

1 National pay claim 2013
2 VT assimilation negotiations
3 Updating of staff files
4 Congress Report and discussion on subs
5 New Executive
6 Delegates for People’s Assembly, 22 June
7 AOB
i) Academic Staff Recognition and Development, HEA and UCU presentations
ii) Multiculturalism and Education in the Age of Austerity day at UCU: Report from Deirdre Osborne (if present)

Pay Claim

Des Freedman (Secretary) expressed disappointment at the pay offer of 1% and the substantial loss of pay, quoting a figure of 13% lost over 5 years for many staff. Although the ‘austerity’ argument is being used to justify this, DF noted that there is revenue and, in many cases, surpluses in the HE sector. Exact facts and figures on this are still needed (which is something we should put to UCU so that we are equipped to go forward).

UCU HE Sector Conference delegates voted to endorse rejection of the pay offer along with other HE unions (who are united in this issue). A motion has been carried at conference to make movements toward action in the Autumn term, with negotiators meeting again this month, a consultative ballot next month and a ballot in Sept/Oct.

Congress noted the need for sustained action and creative thinking; UCU are now keen to hear from branches on this.

Possibilities for action were put to the floor. Suggestions were:

Boycotting exams
Boycotting open days (or ensuring that a One-Day-Strike takes place on an open day)
Refusing to recruit for the following academic year
Refusal to mark masters dissertations
Non-compliance with UKBA registers
An email boycott

Among these, the mood for an Email Boycott was particularly good. TH noted the effectiveness of Out-Of-Office Auto-Reply in the Pensions Dispute, and Deirdre Osborne (Equality) reported that an email boycott in Sydney had been highly effective, gaining national media attention and support of students.

Members should send any ideas for action to gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk

VT Assimilation

Ben Levitas reported that after many years UCU and the college have reached a draft agreement on the assimilation of hourly paid staff onto the single pay spine. This will be subject to ratification by UCU nationally (BL does not anticipate difficulties on this, though it has been postponed) and will go out to ballot of all Goldsmiths UCU members in the summer.

The agreement aims to bring Hourly Paid, Visiting Tutors and fractional staff into alignment with the Framework Agreement that brought all staff onto same pay spine in 2008 (which was backdated to 2006).

The draft agreement lays out the following terms:

1 The assimilation of existing HP staff onto grading structure to determine their hourly pay, using a single system across the college. The entry point for this will be Grade 7, though Doctoral Students in their first year of teaching will enter at Grade 6, moving on to Grade 7 after a year. This will be backdated to 2006. HP Staff will also have the same rights as permanent staff in terms movement up the pay spine.

2 Changing the name of the contract to Associate Lecturer (rather than Visiting Tutor or Associate Tutor). The contract would become permanent after 4 years, shifting from a Temporary Associate Lecturer to a Permanent Associate Lecturer. Promotion will function in exactly the same way as for full time staff.

3 Payment will be linked to hourly pay of equivalent full time pay grade.

A multiplier of 2.25 used to determine hourly rate for teaching (i.e., 2.25 x hours taught). In addition, marking will be paid based on number of words marked. Any other work also paid at flat-rate e.g. meetings, web design, etc. For departments where the word-count rule is not applicable, BL noted that this aspect was still being fine-tuned, while DF suggested that any existing mechanism in those department should be transferred – though if there are problems with such mechanism, this would be a good time to bring them up.

4 Fractionality will kick in at 150 hours (bearing in mind the 2.25 multiplier; so could be 67 hours of teaching), at which point 0.1 would be offered.

5 Pay to be protected for one year.

The branch will balloted on this agreement as soon as possible – ideally in the next fortnight. We will look to ensure we have a strong membership among VTs/HPLs ahead of the ballot.

All members present express their thanks to BL and Natalie Fenton (not present) for their hard work and patience in getting to this stage.

Updating HR Files

DF reported that several members have received emails from HR implying that staff files lack the data that UKBA require.

We know from recent events at London Met what this could entail.

The branch will monitor the situation as HR up date their files, to ensure proper care is taken to make this an equal and fair process.

Congress report and subscription rates discussion

DF reported that GUCU’s motions for congress were passed unanimously.

DF reported that nationally (though not at Goldsmiths) UCU has accrued a £2 million deficit due to losing members. Instead of sanctioning a budget that may involve compulsory redundancies, Congress delegates voted for an integrated strategy of cost reductions, recruitment campaigns in low density institutions and raising subscriptions over two years by up to 5% above inflation as necessary.

An exact amount is yet to be decided.

Ben Osborn (Administrator) to begin a new recruitment drive using the staff directory, starting this week.

New Exec

DF and JW put out the call for new Exec Committee members – including President and Secretary.
Interested parties should contact gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk

Delegates for People’s Assembly, 22 June

UCU nationally have voted to support the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, which has been building momentum across the UK. We need to send 5 delegates.
Brendan Donegan, Des Freedman and Clare Kelly volunteered.

BO will send out a message to all members asking for more volunteers.

Academic Staff Recognition and Development : HEA and UCU presentations

There will be a presentation/discussion session 2-4pm Friday June 14th NAB 314 on the topic of Academic Staff Recognition and Development.   Guest speakers will be Richard Brawn from the Higher Education Academy and Michael MacNeil, National Head of H.E. for the UCU.  The focus will be on the recognition of excellence in academic teaching and how we can best support H.E. teaching practice. Queries to m.c.halvorson@gold.ac.uk.

Equality and Austerity Conference

DO reported back on the Multiculturalism and Education in the Age of Austerity day at UCU headquarters. DO noted the parlous state of things with regards to BAME members representation on the National Exec. and over-representation in job losses, noting that disillusionment about diversity issues was a key reason for membership decline (see item 4).