GUCU Equalities Update June 15, 2020
By refusing to extend contracts or to agree furlough requests it is clear that Goldsmiths Senior management is determined that casualised staff on FTC, AL and GTT contracts are to bear the brunt of the crisis. 40% of teaching staff at Goldsmiths are on casualised contracts. This is an important equalities issue – the vast majority of casualised staff at Goldsmiths come from groups who have protected characteristics under the 2010 Equality Act – most are from BAME backgrounds and are women. The institution has a duty as a public body not to discriminate against those with protected characteristics. UCU seriously questions whether SMT is meeting that duty.
At Joint Negotiating Committee meetings in April May and June GUCU officers:
- Repeatedly called for casualised staff to have their contracts extended. These demands have been ignored.
- Repeatedly called on SMT to grant furlough to those staff who applied for it. All requests for furloughing were rejected – including women with childcare responsibilities who could not work at home.
- Repeatedly requested data of those with protected characteristics who are on FTC, AL and GTT contracts. These requests have been denied.
- Repeatedly demanded that Goldsmiths carry out Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs) on each of these policies to demonstrate that they were fulfilling their duties as a public institution not to discriminate against those with protected characteristics. These demands were kicked into the long grass.
This is not proper consultation or negotiation – making pronouncements in meetings is not consultation. Goldsmiths SMT is NOT listening.
Due to lack of progress in negotiations, GUCU wrote to the Chair of the Human Resources and Equalities Committee (HREC) on June 2 in order to highlight the deep inequality arising from the policies being introduced. The letter insisted that EIAs be carried out on the decisions not to furlough staff, not to extend AL, FTC and GTT contracts, the suspension of dedicated research leave, the cancelling of the promotions round and the short-term policy on workload for caring staff. GUCU urged HREC to insist that council ask SMT to rescind these policies.
- GUCU was invited to attend the HREC on June 10th. At that meeting, after heated discussion, HR agreed that EIAs should be conducted on these policies but provided no time commitment to instigate or complete them, and indicated not before November. We pointed out that this is far too late as the negative equalities impact of these policies will already have been suffered. We demanded again that HREC instruct council to rescind these policies on the basis of negative equalities impact. This was not adopted.
-The lack of concern that SMT has shown towards FTC, AL and GTT staff has been appalling and has left AL and GTT staff feeling they have no other option but to conduct a marking boycott. GUCU supports the demands of our AL, GTT and FTC colleagues, and will continue to campaign at every level for them. We would also remind colleagues that since work-related stress has been identified as unacceptably high by GUCU health and safety officers, should you be asked to take on extra or additional work at short notice to seek advice from your department rep or H&S officer first.
We also encourage union reps and members to work with us to press for equality impact assessments in their departments. In addition to discuss ways of gathering testimony/sharing information which will help us to fully assess the discriminatory implications of a range of current decisions being taken by SMT, and to arrange meetings to discuss support and what further action that can be taken.