Solidarity with TPS Strike, General Meeting 28 March 2012 and Important Information about the General Secretary’s Consultation Ballot

Please find below a notice on the TPS strike and how you can show solidarity, as well as the agenda for our General Meeting next week. The agenda includes information about Sally Hunt’s proposed changes to UCU.

1. TPS strike action – show solidarity

Please note that the 28th of March is a strike day for our colleagues who are on the Teacher’s Pension Scheme (TPS). Proposed changes to this pension scheme are likely to see greater contributions from members in exchange for reduced benefits.

Members are encouraged to show solidarity on the picket lines in the morning, before the General Meeting in the afternoon. Goldsmiths UCU members are asked to join the pickets at Lewisham College, Lewisham Way from 8am.

2. General Meeting Agenda, 28 March 2012

The General Meeting will take place at 1pm on Wednesday the 28th of March in the Ben Pimlott Building Lecture Theatre.

Minutes for last month’s GM can be found here

1. PACE restructuring (update from PACE representatives)
2. Research Excellence Framework
3. Sally Hunt’s Consultation on the Future of UCU
4. Motion on National Student Survey
5. Submission of Motions / Delegates for UCU Congress
6. Promotions
7. AOB

Notes:

1. Sally Hunt’s Consultation on the Future of UCU

After her re-election as General Secretary, Sally Hunt has proposed several changes to the way UCU is run. The three main changes are to reduce the size of UCU’s National Executive Committee from 72 to a maximum, to allow members to be directly consulted on employer’s offers before the union decides whether to escalate action, and to have members elect the national negotiator posts currently elected by annual conferences.

There has been a great deal of opposition to these proposals, and members are strongly encouraged to read this document, which goes through the proposals one by one and highlights many issues: http://ucu.brighton.ac.uk/UCU_GS_Survery.pdf

A ballot was opened on the 12th of March and closes on the 28th at 12noon. Although the GM takes place after the close of the ballot, it is still important that we discuss the implications of these changes, in the light of the upcoming UCU national congress.

2. Motion on National Student Survey

This branch notes:

  • That the National Student Survey (NSS) is a key element of neoliberal proposals (such as those in the 2011 Universities White Paper) to transform higher education into a marketable commodity
  • That the NSS naturalises the idea of students as ‘customers’ and staff as ‘service providers’ and further embeds a culture of ‘measuring’ and ‘ranking’ inside HE
  • That institutions are increasingly using the NSS as a performance management tool with no obvious pedagogic benefits
  • That, as the former head of the Higher Education Academy put it in the THES, the NSS is a ‘pseudoscientific tool purporting to be reliable on the spurious psychologistic grounds that there is some statistical congruence between the responses on a small group of agree-disagree questions around a common topic’.

This branch agrees:

  • To oppose the NSS and to investigate the possibility of urging members not to comply with procedures related to the NSS
  • To work with other UCU branches in developing a campaign of opposition to the NSS
  • To work with student unions and student groups to call for a boycott of the NSS
  • To develop meaningful forms of student feedback and evaluation.

Proposed: Des Freedman

Solidarity with Richmond-Upon-Thames College

Richmond College have started a three day strike today, after plans were revealed to make drastic cuts and redundancies at the college.

On Monday, the chair of Richmond UCU wrote a message to London Region UCU:

[The decision to strike] was motivated largely by the clear understanding that defeat is unthinkable and would leave people with absolutely nowhere to go. Only in the collective could members find any kind of safety and solace in the face of hostility from all sides including apparently our own support staff. ( a letter was recently published in the local newspaper ostensibly from one of our support staff attacking the Union position. It was sent to us as attachment to an e-mail by our marketing dept. only to discover that the signatory, a certain Rose Clarkson, does not exist! They were forced to retract and issue an apology)

Richmond UCU have invited UCU members to join them on the picket lines any day this week from 7.00am till 10.30am to show solidarity. Messages of support can be sent to Dave Carrier, Chair davykcarrier@hotmail.com.

Defending the Right to Education: Where Next for Goldsmiths?

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Tuesday 6th Mar., 5:30pm, Ian Gulland Lecture Theatre

An open discussion about the future of Goldsmiths in light of the changes to higher education, how we can organize resistance to cuts and closures on campus, and how to build for the NUS walkout on the 14th March. This meeting has been called jointly by the Students Union, UCU lecturers union and Goldsmiths Education Activist Network.

Speakers:
Des Freedman – Goldsmiths UCU secretary
Samson Oson – Goldsmiths SU Campaigns officer (& President elect)
Jaz Blackwell-Pal – Goldsmiths education activist

With the warnings we’ve had from London Met., t’s more important than ever that Goldsmiths staff and students come together to discuss how to go forward.

NUS president Liam Burns has also called a national week of action starting on the 12th March. This will include a walkout on Wednesday 14th but also events through the week. The aim is to build understanding of and resistance to the government’s plans for higher education.

After the discussion we will break off into departmental working groups to co-ordinate with others in our department, both to build for the week and to address issues facing each part of Goldsmiths.

All welcome.

Facebook event http://on.fb.me/zjj1RA