Stop cuts to Lewisham Schools Attendance Service- lobby this Wednesday 18th in Catford, 5-6pm

The Schools Attendance Service in Lewisham has a vital role providing specialist support to ensure all children have the chance of full attendance at school. Despite being highly regarded and achieving excellent attendance in the borough’s primary schools (where most of the service operates), the service now faces cuts of up to 50%, with the loss of 11 staff members. These cuts will have a huge impact on Lewisham’s most vulnerable children, reducing their chances of being able to access a full education. The leaflet below describes the importance of this service and the extent of the harm cuts would cause:

Attendance_and_Welfare_Leaflet

A meeting to discuss the package of cuts is taking place on Wednesday 18th December at the Civic Suite (opposite Laurence House) on Catford Road, Catford, SE6 4RU. Please support Unite the Union’s campaign against these cuts by joining the lobby, which takes place from 5pm to 6pm. The campaign is also asking supporters to write to their local councillors and to send messages of support to onay.kasab@unitetheunion.org. For more information on the campaign, please see:

http://www.unitetheunion.org/how-we-help/listofregions/londonandeastern/londoneasternnews/cuts-threaten-lewisham-schools-service/

Statement to Warden and Secretary on criminalisation of student protest

Today, 54 of our members sent this statement to Warden Patrick Loughrey and Secretary Liz Bromley of Goldsmiths College:

The last week has seen serious repression and violence against students on campuses around the country. This includes bans on protest at the Universities of London, Birmingham and Sussex and arrests of students who have engaged in demonstrations against cuts and in support of better pay and conditions.  This has been accompanied by heavy-handed policing, resulting in the hospitalisation of students on the evening of 5th December in London.

These bans and prosecutions violate the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of association. The use of force against students exercising their democratic rights is unacceptable and sets a dangerous precedent.

We believe that the police should not be used to curtail legitimate protests on campus and that students should not be punished for engaging in campaigns to defend educational provision or to show solidarity with university staff.

As staff at Goldsmiths, we are writing to you to seek reassurance that you support the rights of students to engage in democratic protest and that you oppose acts of violence against students taking part in such protests.

We call on you to publicly oppose the University of London’s injunction on student protests at various University of London sites for the next six months and to make a commitment that you will not:
•       Call for injunctions or possession orders or undertake other legal actions which ban legitimate protest on campus
•       Suspend, prosecute or otherwise victimise students or staff who engage in democratic protest.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Toby Abse, Lecturer, History
Prof. Les Back, Sociology
Edward Bagenal, Lecturer, Design
Prof. Vikki Bell, Sociology
Dr. Josephine Berry-Slater, Lecturer, Centre for Cultural Studies
Michaela Benson, Senior Lecturer, Sociology
Prof. Windy Dryden, Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies
Dr. Sarah Farris, Senior Lecturer, Sociology
Prof. Natalie Fenton, Joint Head of Department, Media and Communications
Joanna Figiel, Visiting Tutor, Media and Communications
Linda France, Lecturer, Media and Communications
Dr. Marianne Franklin, Media and Communications
Dr. Des Freedman, Media and Communications
Dr. Matthew Fuller, Professor, Centre for Cultural Studies
Graham Gaskell, Chief Executive, Students’ Union
Prof. Bill Gaver, Design
Prof. Rosalyn George, Educational Studies
Dr. Roger Green, Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies
Michael Guggenheim, Principal Investigator, Sociology
Mary Claire Halvorson, Learning Enhancement Unit
Tom Henri, Lecturer, Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies
Dr. Anja Kanngieser, Senior Lecturer, Sociology
Amanda Kipling, Senior Tutor, Educational Studies
Prof. Caroline Knowles, Centre for Urban and Community Research, Sociology
Dr. Monika Krause, Senior Lecturer, Sociology
Sarah Lambert, Learning Enhancement Unit
Dr. Ben Levitas, Lecturer, Theatre and Performance
David Mabb, Reader, Art
Dr. Vicky Macleroy, Lecturer, Educational Studies
Dr. Isaac Marrero-Guillamon, Lecturer, Anthropology
Miranda McLachlan, Lecturer, Media and Communications
Dr. Mariam Motamedi-Fraser, Senior Lecturer, Sociology
Prof. Kate Nash, Sociology
Chloe Nast, Department Coordinator, Sociology
Helen Palmer, Lecturer, English and Comparative Literature
Angela Phillips, Reader, Media and Communications
Claire Reddleman, Centre for Cultural Studies
Alex Rhys-Taylor, Lecturer, Sociology
Dr. Marsha Rosengarten, Sociology
Dr. Evelyn Ruppert, Lecturer, Sociology
Dr. Edgar Schmitz, Senior Lecturer, Fine Art
Benedict Seymour, Lecturer, Art
Dr. Kalbir Shukra, Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies
Dr. Sally Skaife, Lecturer, Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies
Prof. Beverly Skeggs, Sociology
Linda Stupart, Graduate Trainee Tutor, Art
Dr. Alberto Toscano, Reader, Sociology
Dr. Anna Traianou, Head of MA Programme, Educational Studies
Dr. Pasi Valiaho, Senior Lecturer, Media and Communications
John Wadsworth, Lecturer, Educational Studies
Leila Whitley, Visiting Tutor, Media and Communications
Nicole Wolf, Lecturer, Visual Cultures
James Woodcock, Student Services
Prof. Joanna Zylinska, Media and Communications

Leaflet for 3rd December strike

Why are we striking?

For a decent pay award…

Since 2009, UCU members in higher education (HE) have had pay cuts resulting in an average cumulative loss of 13%. At the same time, money from student tuition fees is pouring into the HE sector, creating an operating surplus of over £2 billion.

Not everyone, however, is in the same boat. The assault on wages is happening at the same time as an unprecedented boom for those at the top. Over 2500 people in higher education earn more than £100,000 a year; at Goldsmiths, this number has increased from 1 to 4 in the last year! Half of all vice-chancellors earn over £242,000 a year, with our own Warden receiving a 9% pay increase this year. Meanwhile, ordinary staff face increased casualisation, rising workloads and cuts to pensions.

…but in the context of the Government’s assault on universities

Youth unemployment now stands at nearly one million. Yet instead of investing properly in post-16 education, the government has trebled tuition fees and scrapped the Education Maintenance Allowance in order to drive down demand for continuing education during a recession. It has, however, shown not just disregard for the lives of young people but staggering incompetence in overseeing its own market reforms. The budget of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will have to be cut by some £1.4 billion in the next two years to pay for the increased demand for loans, a substantial part of which is generated by students in private colleges that have few of the restraints placed on publicly regulated institutions. This is a market literally out of control.

We are told that – just as university and college employers “cannot afford” a decent pay rise despite money in the bank – market reforms of further and higher education were necessary at a time of austerity. But the government’s introduction of fees and loans was never about saving money. It was designed to massage the public accounts and demonstrate its love of free enterprise. Yet the claim by universities minister, David Willetts, that the recent sell-off of student debt from the 1990s – worth £890 million but sold for £160 million – represented ‘good value for money, helping to reduce public sector net debt’ is laughable. Not only is his understanding of what constitutes ‘good value’ demented; the idea that reducing the country’s net debt by 0.000133% is of any significance is risible. This is not about good value but about an ideological commitment to free markets – whatever the cost to the public.

And the cost has been huge – not simply in terms of massively increased student debt, but in widening social inequality. Since 2010/11, part-time undergraduate numbers have fallen by some 40%, with a 27% drop in postgraduates. Even the official regulator, HEFCE, admitted that these decreases ‘are likely to have implications for equality and diversity’ and to have a disproportionate impact on non-traditional students, mature students and men from disadvantaged backgrounds. This is at the same time that young people living in richer parts of the country are between six and nine times more likely to go to selective universities.

The pay dispute must be seen in this wider context: a neoliberal restructuring of post-16 education that is set to reward the wealthy and to target the poor, and to introduce competition, market forces and private actors into the delivery of higher education whenever possible.

In this context, the pay dispute should be fought not simply as a battle over a few hundred pounds but also over the future of an education system being ravaged by the ideological desire of successive governments to make it function just like any other private institution.

Leaflet for strike on 03/12/13

Press release for tomorrow’s strike, Tuesday 3rd December

Goldsmiths College trade unions on strike 3rd December 2013

Trade unions representing the staff at Goldsmiths College have called for further strike action.  On Tuesday 3rd December, members of UCU and UNISON, representing staff from porters to professors, will walk out at in protest at the 1% pay offer from the employers.  Taking into account the sector-wide pay freeze since 2009, this amounts to a pay cut in real terms of 13%. During this period we have seen senior management salaries rise faster than inflation and universities accumulating huge surpluses since the tripling of student fees.

Below is an open letter to Pat Loughrey, the Warden (Vice-Chancellor) of Goldsmiths from the members of Goldsmiths branch of the UCU.

On Tuesday 3rd December lecturers and support staff at Goldsmiths will be taking strike action for the second time this year and we would like to make clear our reasons for this. For the fifth successive year UCEA, the employers organisation, have made an offer to increase pay by 1%, well below the current rate of inflation. In effect both lecturers and support staff have seen their incomes fall by 13% since 2008.

Over the same period, student fees have been increased to £9,000 a year for home students and upwards of £11,000 for international students. Thanks to successful recruitment and the acknowledged high quality of degree courses at Goldsmiths the University has managed to maintain a healthy operating surplus, some of which has been invested in improving the state of the teaching accommodation. Sadly this has not been extended to investing in the majority of the staff all of whom make a substantial contribution to the success of Goldsmiths.

While salaries of lecturers and support staff have declined in real terms, the same cannot be said of the Warden who has recently been awarded a 9% pay rise and benefits from a pension contribution far in excess of the annual salary of most support staff. We would like to congratulate him on his success in helping secure the place of Goldsmiths in a global marketplace but would remind him of the contribution to this of everyone who works here. A few crumbs from the top table wouldn’t go amiss.