GUCU Branch Motion on Dispute Resolution, Wed 28th April, 2021
[Passed 69% in favour, 27% against, 4% abstentions)
This branch notes that:
- GUCU’s industrial action in its dispute with Goldsmiths over planned redundancies and staff control measures past and future, has had an impact on the Senior Management Team’s (SMT’s) so-called recovery programme and restructure, slowing its timeline for large-scale reduandancies and helping galvanise opposition to these plans.
- SMT have made an offer of six commitments in exchange for an end to the assessment boycott, in resolution of the dispute. This offer has been shaped by repeated challenges on the part of GUCU negotiators and through amendments voted and campaigned for by the branch membership.
- These commitments provide a guarantee that no compulsory redundancies will take place before 28 February, 2022; that Associate Lecturer budgets will be retained at minimum 95% of their 2020/21 levels in 2021/22; and that equalities impact assessments will be carried out on any decisions relating to possible redundancies. They also offer a set of mechanisms for GUCU to hold management to agreements around the assimilation of casualised staff to permanent contracts, and for addressing issues around workload and equalities. There is also a commitment to providing GUCU with clear information on any possible contract terminations over the coming year, broken down according to protected characteristics, and meeting on a monthly basis in order to review any likelihood of redundancies and the implementation of the full agreement.
- Accepting this offer would not prevent the branch from taking future action. Nor would it constitute an acceptance of any compulsory redundancies taking place at any point. GUCU negotiators have been explicit with management that, should we be informed of any compulsory redundancies to take place within or beyond the guaranteed period, it is highly likely that the branch would go back into dispute. Likewise, the branch could go into future dispute over any other issue, including those within and outside of those addressed in the six commitments.
- In a consultative vote in the last branch meeting, members voted 72% in favour of accepting the six commitments and halting the assessment boycott with 21% against and 7% abstaining. A subsequent electronic survey, in which 279 members participated, resulted in 72.8% in favour of the same decision, with 27.2% against.
- In the course of these consultations, much of the debate among members have pivoted on the timing of ending this particular dispute. There has been widespread consensus about the necessity for ongoing organisation and campaigning against the ongoing and significant threats to jobs, equalities and our working and learning conditions posed by SMT’s plans for the College.
This branch believes that:
- In relation to compulsory redundancies, the terms of this dispute have necessarily been somewhat restricted from the outset in that they deal with planned/future rather than concrete/announced redundancies.
- The offer that has been made, while falling short of our initial demands, represents a stalling of further redundancies which had been planned as early as Easter 2020, alongside other related aspects of the restructure timeline, and has achieved some guarantees on AL budgets. It has also shown management that we, along with the majority of the Goldsmiths community, see the destruction they are perpetuating in the name of recovery, and will fight back against it. All of this has only been possible thanks to the sacrifices and solidarity of staff and students both within and outside our union.
- The recovery plan and restructure as a whole have not been halted as a result of this dispute (though nor, in all likelihood, could they have been). It remains highly likely that SMT/the College will continue to plan for significant numbers of compulsory redundancies, and will continue to push ahead with its restructuring of academic departments and professional services, to the detriment of all staff and students present and future. It is therefore essential that this current dispute be understood as one stage of a larger fight, with bigger battles yet to come.
- In light of recent consultations with members, this is the right time to end the present dispute, push through what is gained by the six commitments, and begin preparing for the further fights ahead.
This branch resolves to:
- Accept the six commitments pending a final negotiation meeting with SMT at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss terms of returning to work, and the processes of implementing the agreement. This is to include an agreed and reasonable timeline for return of outstanding marks and assessments with an agreed ‘grace’ period.
- Nominate working groups to consult with management on the implementation of different aspects of the six commitments, in particular on (a) assimilation of casualised staff, (b) workload, and (c) redundancies and overseeing the implementation of the agreement, including the equalities impacts of any relevant SMT decisions.
- Prepare for initiating a dispute and further industrial action should redundancies be announced, potentially as soon as the Autumn Term.
- Intensify campaigning against the College’s restructure under the aegis of “recovery” and its effects.
- Send a message of thanks to the Students’ Union, Goldsmiths Fees Strike and other student groups and students in general who have shown such fantastic solidarity with our action.
- Build solidarity and support by all available means for groups affected by and/or resisting any aspects of SMT’s current “recovery” measures, and the longer history of institutional racism, the marketisation of Higher Education, and the inequality and neoliberalisation that precede them.