Goldsmiths UCU General Meeting minutes, 28th March 2012
PACE representatives reported on the proposed restructuring of their department.
– At the last General Meeting, management had just issued paperwork which laid out a plan for the restructuring of PACE. The paperwork was unclear and lacked information. At that time it looked like many staff would be affected, with multiple redundancies taking place, and that several courses would be shut down.
– Des Freedman (DF), Branch Secretary, met with management to discuss this and pointed out the lack of clarity and proper procedure in the proposal.
Since then a number of departments have offered to take on PACE courses. A revised restructuring plan has now been obtained, in which the number of threatened course closures and redundancies has been drastically reduced. There will be a meeting after the GM to discuss the reaction to this.
The situation as it now stands:
– New focus for PACE will be ‘Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies’
– 14 people are still at risk; if other departments can take on their courses, this will be reduced to 4– all of whom are Hourly-Paid Lecturers (HPLs) or ATs.
– Among the courses still threatened with closure is one Undergraduate BA, Social & Cultural Studies, which is a very popular course, recruiting healthily and consistently in profit. At the moment it looks unlikely that this course will be moved to another department; instead it will be altered to fit the new emphasis of the restructured department. The priority for UCU is to protect the course and its staff.
– UCU have put forward a statement questioning the threatened closure of this course.
The SU are very supportive of PACE, and SU representatives have been invited to the meeting today. Casework Coordinator Pamela Beevers (PB) and HPL rep. Luke Evans (LE) noted that the extremely casualised nature of those affected might explain a lack of action within PACE. Sadly, many affected are not unionized.
1. (ii) Update on HR (as relevant to PACE dispute)
Ellen Sand has now taken over as temporary director of Human Resources.
Branch President John Wadsworth (JW) reiterated the last GM’s update on HR (see minutes, item 3). JW also stressed the importance of securing progress in UCU’s talks with HR, in order to defend PACE and other departments that may be threatened in the future.
The branch agreed that action would be threatened at the next JNC in May, to push for progress on this.
2. Research Excellence Framework
DF reported that Goldsmiths staff were better off in terms of the REF than other institutions. David Oswell (DO, not present) had come up with good guidelines for REF, and so far all union demands had been met.
3. Sally Hunt’s Consultation on the Future of UCU
Ben Osborn (BO), Branch Administrator, noted that although voting was now closed, it might still be useful to discuss reactions to the General Secretary’s plans for UCU, as this is the first meeting since the UCU elections.
LE noted that at the Anti-Casualisation Meeting he attended there was a feeling of resistance to the reforms, and that despite the results of the survey, there might still be difficulty in carrying them out.
4. Motion on National Student Survey
Motion passed with an overwhelming majority. An online ballot was used to allow members not present at the GM to vote, which had a good turnout. BO to submit the motion to UCU congress by 30/3/12.
5. Delegates for UCU congress
DF and Kevin Jones (KJ) nominated as delegates for UCU congress. BO to register them on the UCU website.
Mary-Claire Halvorson (MCH) noted that there was a lack of transparency and equality in the promotions process, and that deadlines were announced too late.
The branch agreed that deadlines should be announced at 5pm on a Friday, and the process should be undertaken with greater transparency and clarity.
BO asked for suggested departmental points of contact for those departments which do not have reps. Any one wishing to volunteer should email firstname.lastname@example.org.