GUCU Motion: Equalities and Coronavirus Policy at Goldsmiths

Passed at GUCU AGM July 1st, 2020

This branch notes that

  1. Goldsmiths has introduced a number of key policies to ‘control staff costs’ since the advent of the coronavirus pandemic in early March 2020.
  2. These policies include:
    1. Non-renewal of AL and GTT contracts
    2. Non-renewal of FTC contracts unless approved by SMT
    3. Academic promotions cancelled for 2020
    4. Pay and progression round cancelled for 2020
    5. Cancellation of dedicated research leave in 2020
    6. Embargo on staff appointments or replacements
  3. Goldsmiths has a duty as a public body to ensure that any new (or existing) policy does not discriminate against those with protected characteristics under the 2010 Equality Act, and has a further duty to demonstrate that it is doing this.
  4. The accepted way for public bodies to demonstrate that they are meeting their duty is to conduct Equalities Impact Assessments (EIAs) for all new and existing policies.
  5. Goldsmiths SMT had not, as of June 10th, instructed EIAs to be conducted in relation to any of the new policies mentioned above.
  6. Goldsmiths recognises in section 22 of its Athena Swan application that it must increase institutional support for carers and parents. The provisions laid out in the “Temporary Changes to Working Conditions”, are not sufficiently robust to address the workload crisis currently facing those with caring and parental responsibilities.
  7. A full policy must be devised with an EIA in order to provide ongoing support to staff with caring and parental responsibilities to guide practice in departments.
  8. At the HR and Equalities Committee on June 10, 2020, which only took place at the insistence of campus unions, HR accepted that it needs to conduct EIAs; but has said that it will not conduct them until November 2020.
  9. This delay means that the negative impact of policies introduced in March 2020 will have already been felt, and the institution will therefore not have met its duties for at least nine months.
  10. This practice is not acceptable, given that some of those negative impacts are likely to be irreversible.

This branch calls on SMT

1) To carry out an EIA in relation to 2(a) and 2(b) by July 10, 2020. This is on the basis that many staff will have been made redundant or will have lost their jobs prior to the conducting of a proper audit into the equalities impact of an operational decision made in March. Some staff have already been made redundant. This EIA must be an institutional priority – Goldsmiths must meet its obligations as a public body in a timely manner.

2) To carry out the first drafts of EAIs in relation to 2(c – f) by July 10, 2020. This is on the basis that it is currently not meeting its duty as a public body and under the 2010 Equality Act to ensure and to demonstrate that it is not discriminating against our members in the areas of policy outlined above.

3) To ensure that proper consultation occurs with UCU in relation to all EIAs, including the prompt releasing of appropriate information and regular dialogue as the EIAs are being developed.

4) To agree to rescind any or all of those policies that demonstrate a potential to be discriminatory, such as contract non-renewals, cancelling promotions and dedicated research leave, etc.

5) To conduct an EIA on the policy changes for parents and those with caring responsibilities, the first draft of which to be presented to UCU on or before July 10, 2020 and to develop, in consultation with campus unions, a more robust and long term policy to support those with caring and parental responsibilities, specifically in relation to the impact of coronavirus on increasing the burdens of caring over at least the next 24 months.

This branch resolves

To call a dispute with Goldsmiths should it refuse by July 10, 2020 to present the EIAs and draft EIAs in all the areas listed above and by July 10 to agree a timeline for the drawing up a new policy to support parents and carers during the period of coronavirus.