You can donate via the gofundme page here.
Who are we?
Short Course Lecturers at Goldsmiths are precarious members of staff (PhD scholars, early-career academics, workers in the creative industries), who make a living by teaching non-accredited evening and weekend courses open to participants from any professional area. Like other lecturers, we teach in academic departments; media and cultural studies, creative writing, anthropology, history or politics. Unlike others, we are not considered workers by the university. This is what we are now challenging in court by following the example of Uber drivers who won the legal case for recognition of their worker status. We, too, are challenging the fact that Goldsmiths University of London is failing to grant us with even minimal employment rights.
The situation so far
Instead of being recognised as workers or employees of the university, Short Course Lecturers are treated as self-employed (‘independent contractors’). This means that Goldsmiths refuses to negotiate with GUCU. It also refuses Short Course lecturers holiday or sick pay , payment for teaching preparation or for conducting additional administrative duties – all of which other academic members of staff benefit from. Goldsmiths also has full control over courses’ cancellation and arbitrarily changes aspects of our terms of engagement without any consultation (for example, in December a new rule for minimum recruitment was introduced, which meant that a range of short courses were cancelled with no warning, thus exacerbating an already very difficult financial situation for many of us).
Many of the Tutors who teach Short Courses at Goldsmiths have been running their classes for years, making money for the university, while never receiving recognition for their work in the form of adequate payment or minimal legal protections.
What are we doing?
We have instructed a solicitor from Leigh Day (the law firm which successfully worked with Uber drivers in their case) to represent out case in an employment tribunal. We are confident that we have a strong and winnable case, and now need to raise funds to cover the legal fees that we will mount in the months, perhaps even years, ahead.
We need your support: please contribute and share this page now!
What are we trying to achieve?
If we win this case (and we are sure as hell that we will!), this success has the potential of becoming a landmark case for the higher education sector in the UK. Increasingly relying on precarious staff on fractional, fixed-term contracts to deliver teaching, universities are now going a step further by refusing to issue contracts to teaching staff. We need to stop such practices before they become the norm for the entirety of an already decimated sector subjected to permanent cuts and restructuring.
The good news
We are not alone – Short Course Lecturers at University of the Arts London are also bringing their employer to court in an attempt to establish their employment status. Our two cases are about more than a few individual lecturers going to a tribunal – they have the potential to instigate a legal change in the employment practices of higher education institutions.
What is the next step in the case?
Three claims have been sent to the South London Employment Tribunal, which already contacted the Respondent and notified them of our action. Goldsmiths has now until July 1st to submit its Grounds For Resistance (its initial response).
How much are we raising and why?
Our initial target is £20,000 as these are the costs that we will likely have to pay over the summer for the processing of our claims (3 existing claims, which we hope to be processed together by the employment tribunal, plus those of any potential eligible joiners). We also need these funds to cover the fees for instructing Counsel to attend 3 days of preliminary hearings at an employment tribunal, and other legal fees that may well accumulate during a protracted legal battle.
We would be grateful for any donation!
Please contribute to our fundraiser and share it in your networks to help us fight Goldsmiths’ damaging employment practices!