We the undersigned staff in the Department of Visual Cultures recognise that our colleagues on AL, GTT, and FTC (fixed term contracts) bring immense knowledge, experience and diversity to the Department and the College as a whole. They are a critical component of course delivery, and the Department cannot meet its obligations to students without them.
We support colleagues across the College currently withdrawing from marking and unpaid labour in protest at the unfair and inequitable treatment they have received in the blanket refusal to extend, renew or furlough those on AL and Fixed Term Contracts and the announcement, on 12 May, of an AL hiring freeze.
We are devastated at the treatment and potential loss of such an essential and valued part of the Goldsmiths community, a community that represents 39% of academic staff at the university.
We are devastated that this decision has a disproportionate effect on BAME and women members of staff, forcing them to bear, once again, the brunt of economic precarity and setting back much needed action on staff inequality as outlined by last year’s GARA demands.
We are devastated by what this means for the youngest generation of researchers, who in the middle of a pandemic will find it very hard to secure work elsewhere, and for whom the future is highly precarious. Equally, as highlighted by Goldsmiths SU, we are devastated that many GTTs across the college who are also students, will lose out on the opportunity to develop teaching skills through the work we offer annually and will find themselves unable to continue to study without their teaching income.
We have serious concerns about the impact of such a decision on the workload and contractual terms and conditions of permanent members of staff in ours and other Departments. Already many colleagues are at a breaking point with the additional hours and caring responsibilities that have accompanied new working conditions under Covid-19, the move to online teaching and work throughout the summer to support students making late submissions.
As such, we consider these threatened cuts to the College’s ALs, GTTs and FTC colleagues to be reckless. Not only do they devastate the staff immediately affected, but they signal both potential harm to the conditions of remaining staff and serious damage to the quality of provision we will offer to students.
The longer-term implications of this generational and intersectional unfairness need to be recognised and mitigated by strong leadership at this point. Such unfairness undermines the whole idea of the university we present to our students and to future researchers.
We are calling for the:
Immediate honouring of payments across the College for additional work done by ALs across the College
Extension of AL/GTT/FTC contracts, and furlough to be made available to all
Full consultation on budget decisions related to staffing based on financial transparency (eg. Senior Management salary sacrifice ring fenced for ALs)
Assessment of redundancy impact with proper and meaningful consultation with Union representatives both at Departmental and College-wide level
Publication and distribution of all risk assessments that have been undertaken in relation to Health and Safety, especially in relation to workplace workload and stress
Publication and distribution of an Equalities Impact Statement on the effects of this decision.
In the meantime, permanent members of staff in the Department may exercise the option to protect themselves against a workload risk and stress that has been identified as unacceptably high, which may impact an unanticipated marking load.
To underline this, GUCU Health and Safety and Departmental Reps have cautioned permanent colleagues about taking on any extra work at short notice, while we investigate this unacceptable risk further.
Jon K Shaw
Yaiza Hernández Velázquez
Dhanveer Singh Brar