Member Communication on Dispute Resolution

Member communication on dispute resolution, 30.04.2021

Dear Member,

After nearly 4 months of industrial action, Goldsmiths UCU members have voted to end their marking boycott and accept the current set of commitments put forward by Goldsmiths Senior Management Team to resolve their dispute. The decision comes after two branch votes and a consultative e-survey of the broader membership, all of which showed a majority in favour of accepting the latest proposal put forward by SMT. GUCU members are therefore asked to stop all industrial action with immediate effect.

GUCU members voted overwhelmingly (72.5%) to engage in Action Short of a Strike in the form of a marking boycott that began on the 5 January. The dispute was over Covid related redundancies among casualised staff during the summer 2020 and threats from the university to use compulsory redundancies as part of a restructure plan for the 20/21 academic year. The branch balloted for a commitment to making no compulsory redundancies over the coming 24 months; and a reversal and mitigation of the policies underpinning the staff control measures introduced to date and a halt on implementing further measures designed to reduce staff numbers.

The proposal accepted by GUCU includes the following commitments by SMT: 

– A guarantee that no compulsory redundancies will take place before 28 February, 2022
– The retention of Associate Lecturer budgets at minimum 95%* of their 2020/21 levels in 2021/22
– The establishment of mechanisms for GUCU to hold management to agreements around the assimilation of casualised staff to the National Framework Agreement of Pay Structures, and for addressing issues around workload and equalities. 
– 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.
– Equalities impact assessments to be carried out on any decisions relating to possible redundancies. 

The proposal that has been accepted, 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. 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.

Branch negotiators are currently establishing a return to work agreement with SMT which will give guidance on completing marking. Details of the return to work plan will be sent to all members once it is finalised. 

We would like to thank students for their patience and for the fantastic solidarity they have shown with our action. We would like to thank representatives of the Students Union who have provided indispensable support and constructive feedback for our campaign throughout. We would also like to thank the Goldsmiths Fees and Rent Strikers for their support during our campaign. We will continue to fight for the demands of both of their campaigns.

In Solidarity, 

GUCU Executive