Goldsmiths UCU Annual General Meeting
8th October, 2014 RHB 342
1. Reports from the President and Secretary
Tom Henri, President (TH) reported on a mixed year: the pay dispute had some success, though limited to a 2% rise but with significant local victories; the assimilation of hourly paid staff was a major achievement but the work is ongoing; HR seem to be improving and our relationship to the students union remains very strong. But starting the new academic year, proposed changes to USS present the biggest single attack on pay and conditions we’ve yet seen.
Des Freedman, Secretary (DF) urged more people to get involved with the union. We are a very strong branch, management take us very seriously and this gives us a responsibility to be as effective as possible. Therefore we need more reps (see item 2) and for reps to be more active (particularly important in the upcoming dispute) and more caseworkers (see item 5b).
2. Election of new representatives
All representatives unanimously re-elected. Still a vacancy for a second Health and Safety Rep., and Frances Renton, Treasurer (FR) would be interested in either having someone share the responsibilities of the position or perhaps take it over. Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.
3. USS Pensions Dispute
Simon Renton, outgoing national UCU president (SR) warned that USS reforms could cut pensions by up to 27% – a loss of thousands of pounds a year for individual members. USS has suffered compared to the TPS, which shows that it’s not a case of such pensions being unaffordable in HE. Univerities UK have overreacted to calculations on USS under pressure from the government. Only the threat of action can make negotiations meaningful. This is envisaged as an assessment boycott, to which employers may respond aggressively – including 100% pay cuts – but UCU will do everything they can to support workers. In order to influence negotiations we need the turnout to be as large as possible and to connect to students and to the local community.
Those present were strongly in favour of action, though wanted as much support from UCU’s national leadership as possible. Deirde Osborne, Equalities Rep. (DO) said we need to publicise the fact that money we’ve already earned is being taken from us, contradicting the terms we’ve been working on. Several speakers from the floor expressed enthusiasm for action beyond marking boycotts and suggested boycotting open days and recruitment practises, particularly as some techniques and organisational approaches used in the pay dispute had been felt to be less effective here by some members – though members felt that all types of action should be considered and used as effectively as possible. DF urged SR to take these messages back to UCU and ask for our ideas to be supported by the union nationally. SR agreed and said he would welcome suggestions and questions by email (SRenton@ucu.org). Locally, you can send any suggestions to the exec. – email email@example.com
In the meantime, members are encouraged to use their vote and to keep spreading the message among colleagues, to ensure a large turn out and a strong mandate for action. The ballot closes on the 20th of October.
4. Anti-Casualisation Campaign
DF stressed the need to keep fighting for our agreement on Hourly-Paid staff to be recognised across the college. If any members hear of people teaching without a contract please contact the branch (firstname.lastname@example.org). A statement will be circulated after the Joint Negotiating Committee. UCU have called a national day of action against casualisation on the 5th of November – see http://www.ucu.org.uk/stampout and look out for information in local mail-outs.
a) Members expressed their support for and solidarity with the Goldsmiths Unison branch.
b) A call-out for new caseworkers will be sent by email, with the aim of organising a local training event.
c) Ben Osborn, branch administrator, is leaving his position at the end of the month. Members are invited to a goodbye drink on Weds 29th Oct. at 4pm at the Marquis of Granby.