Your Member FAQs re USS, answered by our UCU National Pensions Official.

1. What effects would the proposed changes to the USS pension have for early career academics?
– Early career staff will be the most affected by the changes as they have less built up in the current scheme. They are also more likely to be on less secure contracts. Whatever anyone has built up in the current scheme up to April 2019 will be protected however, going forward under the current UUK proposals they will have no further benefits built up in defined benefit (annual pension linked to salary and service) but will be built up in defined contribution (what you pay is defined but outcome dependent on stock market) which will be a cash sum from which you would have to drawdown until it ran out or buy an annuity (pension) which is very expensive.

2. How do the proposed changes compare to what is happening to pension systems in the private sector, where investment funds are a common pension vehicle even for third sector employers?
– Very like private sector pensions in that the build up is in defined contribution but the death in service and ill health will continue to be defined benefit.3

. Do we know in what kinds of investments our pensions will be held in, if the changes go ahead, and do employees have any control over these investments?
– Thousands of members already build up a defined contribution pot in USS either as an extra and by taking the ‘match’ as a way of getting an extra one percent from employers or if they earn over £55,500 and all salary over that is pensioned as defined contribution. Currently there are 6 choices for members 2 lifestyles (one ethical) and one other ethical but this would expand.

4. I was wondering if it were possible for USS members to have their contributions paid into TPS. If not now, in the future?
– This is an idea we would be happy to explore but it’s not under discussion at the moment.

5. Has the Union produced detailed data of the potential impact on members at different stages of their career i.e. 25, 35, mid-career and say two to three years before intended retiring date?
– The First Actuarial report shows the impact on 12 hypothetical members at different career stages:
http://www.ucu.org.uk/…/firstacturial_ussvtps_nodb_29nov17.…

Short version:
https://www.ucu.org.uk/…/Overhaul-of-university-pensions-co…

6. What alternatives are UCU proposing?
– Under discussion but will be governed by conference policy

7. In the event that we do go over to a defined contribution pension, why should the university contribution be 18% to our 9%? (8%, it is only 9% with the match which will go)
– That amount was based on what was needed to support our defined benefit pensions under the USS. (The employers envelope is 18% (until 2020) out of that is deficit recovery, charges, admin, money to keep the defined benefit paying out assuming the employee contributions are not going in; anything left will go into the individual DC pot and all the employee 8% will go into their individual DC pot. The individual will probably get an option to pay less in, which may be attractive to those who feel 8% is too high.
In 2011 the employers only wanted to pay 10% into a DC pot, the current offer is slightly more but the closed defined benefit section will eat money.)

Now that the money would no longer go to that, the amount they provide needs to be enough for us to have a sensible pension given expected returns. If this is above 27%, then they need to contribute more. Can such a calculation be done to determine what they would need to provide to be used in negotiations?
– They don’t think they need to give you enough for a sensible pension they say they won’t contribute more, not can’t, won’t.

8. In the event that we do go over to a defined contribution pension, can we get a non-negotiable guarantee that the universities will indefinitely contribute 18% (or whatever the final amount is) of our salaries into a defined contribution pension? I am concerned since currently the universities pay 18% to our 9% since that it what the USS needed to pay our pension. If the universities are no longer liable to support our pension, what is stopping them from slowly reducing their contribution to our pension?
– They only ever promised 18% to 2020 and signaling they will reduce but as the Defined Benefit has no member contributions going in it will be very expensive.

9. In the event that we do go over to a defined contribution pension, what fraction of the contribution will go towards supporting the defined benefit pensions? If this is any number above 0, why should we be responsible for supporting other people’s benefits? (Anyone in now will have benefits building up until 2019 not just other peoples.)
How can we be guaranteed that none of our money is used to support a defined benefit pension?
– Your money will go into your pot you can see it on the Investment Builder login. Yes the employer will have to pay a lot to keep the DB section, they have a legal duty to pay out pensions already built up.

10. In the event that we do go over to a defined contribution pension, why should USS be the one to manage it? For whatever reasons, they have shown that they are unable to manage our pensions effectively. I don’t see why we can’t get another company to do it.
– Good point one that has been made. However, because it’s so big it can buy investments cheaply and the employer will pay member charges for most options and admin. It is up to the employer not a member what scheme is on offer in a workplace. An employer will only pay in to the one scheme per group of employees so it’s that scheme or no scheme.

11. In the event that we do go over to a defined contribution pension, what happens to our matching 1%? Will this carry on or be removed?
– Whatever happens the match will be removed probably around April 2019. Make the most of it.

12. What kind of pensions are the leaders of the UUK on?
– UUK and USS staff like UCU staff are all in USS. The Vice Chancellors and such are usually earning too much to pay into a pension there is only so much you can pay in for a lifetime if not they are in USS.

13. What happens if all junior members of the USS simply pull out?
– They would love it. It would save employer contributions and not have to provide an alternative, if it is DC it can run as well with 3 people its all about individual pots.

14. If the future accrual of the defined benefit portion of our pensions is set to zero, what does it mean to keep the death and incapability benefit? Do our partners or dependents somehow get our defined benefit pension if we die young? If so, how is that pension calculated?
– In the current UUK proposals Death in Service and Incapacity will remain defined benefit in most DC schemes there would be a lump sum. How this would be calculated is yet to be discussed.

15. In the news, I keep hearing that the issue with the USS all comes down to how future risk is assessed and that since universities are long standing institutions, there is no problem in the long run (e.g. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/…/uss-pension-changes-…). Are the universities being unreasonable about this and if so, how can this be remedied? Can we use a 3rd party to give a fair assessment of the risk to be used in negotiations?
– We have tried and taken our Actuaries, First Actuarial into meetings. No success.

16. How do the changes affect those who are already drawing a pension?
– No change

17. How do the changes affect those who are on a flexible contract and drawing a fraction of their pension from USS?
– No change on pension and same impact on pension building up as other members.

18. Re the new pensions scheme, does this work like the Premium Bond system where one gets the capital (i.e. amount invested back) and then any gains on top on date of retirement or is the whole amount at risk and what you get back depends on how the market is doing on the day one retires?
-The whole amount is at risk.

ANTI-CASUALISATON MEETING, WEDS 1 NOV, 4PM, DTH 109

IS YOUR CONTRACT ON A FIXED TERM, FRACTIONAL OR HOURLY BASIS?  

Are you a PhD student teaching at Goldsmiths?

Do you persistently work more than what you are paid for?

Have you ever had problems with your contract?

Do you know that you might be working under different conditions than your colleagues at other departments?

 MEET OTHERS IN YOUR POSITION

WEDS 1 NOV, 4PM,

Deptford Town Hall, Room 109

 This meeting of the UCU branch is aimed at part-time lecturers, Associate lecturers, and Graduate Trainee Tutors. A short survey held last spring term indicated different experiences, pay, hours, and ways of treating teaching staff. While we found at Goldsmiths some good practices, the opposite was also true.

In this meeting we aim to hear and share experiences in order to improve teaching conditions at Goldsmiths. We will discuss work pressure, preparation hours, marking, explain the CHC that comes with the contract, and conditions surrounding teaching.

This meeting is organised by your anti-causalisation representatives at the GUCU.

UCU membership is free for PhD students who teach. join at: https://www.ucu.org.uk/join or email gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk for more info

GUCU Annual General Meeting, Tues 24 Oct, 12noon, Great Hall: RESISTING THE NEOLIBERAL UNIVERSITY

 

-Carrie Benjamin SOAS Fractionals for Fair Play

-David Ramsay Goldsmiths UNISON on our joint campaign for London Weighting

-FIGHT ELITISM Stand with Community Development and Youth Work campaign

-Update on the Gold Paper

 Tues 24 October, 12noon-1pm, Great Hall, RHB

Facebook event page

As term begins we will are all dealing with the realities of working and studying in a sector that has been increasingly subject to destructive market pressures.

This includes the rampant growth of casualisation in our Universities – with almost 60% of staff at Goldsmiths reported to be on such precarious contracts. The result is that many of our lecturers are working in extremely insecure conditions, underpaid, and without access to basic resources such as offices and equipment. At this meeting we will be hearing from the FFFP campaign at SOAS in order to learn from their hugely successful campaign to improve pay and conditions of casualised staff.

The unjust treatment of casualised staff speaks to a wider set of issues: from the constant downward pressure on pay to the undervaluing of education itself and those who teach – in favour of market or management imperatives.

Join the discussion on several key initiatives to tackle these problems –the joint campaign with UNISON to increase London weighting paid to staff at Goldsmiths; the Fight Elitism Campaign to defend our BA Degree in Applied Social Science, Community Development and Youth Work BA and the Gold Paper initiative to democratise our university.

Would you like to get more involved in the union?

If you would be interested in getting involved with any of these issues – we want to hear from you! At the AGM all positions in the branch will be up for re-election. Whether it’s working on equalities, becoming a department rep, or tackling casualization – please get in touch with Hannah by email gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk.

Open to all UCU members – If you are not already a member – Join us! https://join.ucu.org

FIGHT ELITISM CAMPAIGN MEETING: Weds 20 Sept, 11.30am, PSH 305

 

Just before the summer break Goldsmiths UCU, in conjunction with the Students union, launched the Fight Elitism campaign in response to a proposed restructure in STACS which will break apart a diverse team of staff with a proven track record in the highly successful BA in Applied Social Science, Community Development and Youth Work (BAASSCD&YW).

https://goldsmithsucu.org/2017/07/31/fight-elitism-stand-with-community-development-youth-work-at-goldsmiths-college/

The campaign has had a fantastic response with professionals and former students writing to the warden supporting our calls for the proposals to be withdrawn. Goldsmiths UCU members also pledged to take industrial action at our last branch meeting.

Following a meeting between Goldsmiths management and UCU representatives in July – the following statement was made by SMT:

“Goldsmiths Management have agreed to review the proposals with STaCS DMT. This means the proposals will not move forward until Goldsmiths management and UCU representatives have met again to discuss the outcome of this review. The earliest this meeting will take place will be week commencing 4th September 2017”.

At the meeting, GUCU agreed to put a pause on progressing industrial action for now. However we will be pushing ahead with the campaign as we feel it is vital to amplify as clearly as possible widespread opposition to a restructure which threatens the only remaining full time community and youth work degree in London 2016-17. We believe also that it is vital to challenge an approach which departs from Goldsmiths’ organisational change policy (job matching, avoiding redundancy etc.) and therefore also risks setting a very bad precedent for all of us working and studying at this institution.

Please join us at the meeting on Weds 20, 11.30am, PSH 305, to discuss how to move the campaign forward. 

In the meantime – we urge colleagues, students and members of the public to write to the Warden Patrick Loughrey – warden@gold.ac.uk expressing concern – Send a copy of messages of support to gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk

Lewisham Mayoral Candidates judge for yourself who will be the mayor we need

Lewisham Trades Council wrote to Lewisham Labour mayoral candidates asking views on key issues- you can read their responses in full below.

The London Labour Party has confirmed members across the borough will get to vote for the short listed candidates in September with the result expected by Friday September 22. Residents will be able to vote for a new executive mayor at the council elections next May as the current mayor Steve Bullock who has held the post for Labour since 2002 is to step down.

CUTS IN PUBLIC SERVICES

We believe the Council should stop passing on Government cuts to public services and work with the unions and community to improve them.

Paul Bell: I will instigate a programme of in-sourcing so we can fight austerity. This means I will end privatisation and outsourcing. I will begin fighting the government and will move to a non-compulsory redundancy policy over me.

Damien Egan: Anyone working for the Council will know only too well how harsh the Tory Government cuts have been to local government. Areas like Lewisham that have higher social need and lower income from council tax and business rates are even harder hit: by 2020 Lewisham’s funding from the Government is forecast to be cut by 63% since 2010. But despite the grim financial outlook, we are lucky in Lewisham to have a strong community and trade unions, who can help us be more innovative in protecting our public services, including: Bringing more services in-house and sharing where it makes sense to do so, such as the recent move to end the Council’s IT contract with Capita and start a joint in-house service with Brent that has helped Council staff with their work, including social workers using tablets when visiting service-users. Generating more income – I will rebuild the Council’s procurement service and have it undertake a wholesale review of all existing Council contracts to ensure the Council is getting the best possible value as well as explore ways in which the Council can offer services to other Councils and the wider public that would provide extra income for the Council’s budget.

Alan Hall: I believe that austerity is the biggest issue facing local government at the moment. I will work proactively with the Labour Leadership team. I will strive to upgrade Lewisham’s services and to uphold the values of community, collectivism and cooperation which define Lewisham. This means there should be a policy of no compulsory redundancies. Indeed, we should be insourcing rather than outsourcing to improve our services.

Paul Maslin: The national policy of the Labour Party is to set balanced budgets, which means abiding by Tory Austerity cuts whilst protecting the most vulnerable, pending the return of a Labour government. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, have been quite explicit on this point, see here: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2015/12/jeremy-corbyn-warns-labour-councils-not-set-no-cuts-budgets. As Labour Mayor I would not undermine the leadership by going against Labour policy.

EDUCATION

There should not be any cuts in teaching or support staff in our schools. It is clearly within the council’s gift to resolve the dispute at Forest Hill school and ensure that there is no repeat on at any other school in Lewisham.

Paul Bell: Lewisham Council under me would be an interventionist council. School budgets need to be monitored four times
a year to avoid a repeat of the tragedy at FHS. I will also fight against academies and free schools, defend school budgets and support early years’ education. SEN provision will be reviewed to support those that need it and affordable childcare will be priority. A new SEN school will be built as an annex of an existing community school. This is perfectly legal.

Damien Egan: The harsh austerity that councils have faced from the Tory government since 2010 has more recently started to hit schools too. For the last two years, funding for Lewisham’s schools from central government has fallen in real terms and there is a real threat from the Government’s proposed changes to the National Funding Formula that
will disproportionately hit Lewisham’s schools. All schools (including LEA maintained schools) are supposed to be responsible for managing their own budgets, but we cannot sit back and watch them fail as funds run short. In the case of Forest Hill School, I will review the Council’s loan arrangement and look to extend the life of the loan. But we should not have come to this position in the first place: I will enhance the Council’s financial monitoring of all schools and use powers to intervene earlier. Lewisham Council needs to be at the forefront of the Fair Funding For All Schools campaign and I will use all lobbying means at the Council’s disposal to help the fantastic work already being done by parents and unions.

Alan Hall: I have worked very hard with the NUT, teachers and parents to find a lasting solution on to the specific problems faced by Forest Hill School, and I will continue to do so. I am very pleased that the NUT representative at FHS has endorsed me. On the wider issue, I think that the Council was wrong-footed and should be at the forefront of the campaign for Fairer Funding for Schools.

Paul Maslin: No one wants to see cuts in our schools, but as with the previous answer, schools must set balanced budgets. It is sadly not in the Council’s gift to resolve the dispute between the NUT and Forest Hill School. The Council cannot provide money from its own dwindling resources to mitigate cuts which are being imposed by central government. Firstly, this isn’t fair on those schools which are managing the difficult financial challenges, and, secondly, it would mean cuts elsewhere to other hard-pressed services. The Labour Group set up a working group to explore whether more financial assistance could be provided to Forest Hill School and it concluded that it could not.

TUC LIVING WAGE

We would like the Council to campaign with us to establish Lewisham as the Living Wage Borough with all employers in Lewisham paying the TUC Living Wage as a minimum.

Paul Bell: I agree.

Damien Egan: I am proud that Lewisham pays all its employees over the London Living Wage and was the first Council in the UK to become an accredited Living Wage Council. Lewisham now has 35 accredited Living Wage Employers across the borough, up from 5 before we brought in Business Rate discounts for employers who become accredited. But we have a long way to go. I will provide more incentives to Lewisham businesses to become Living Wage Employers by using our communication tools alongside local unions by promoting good employers and the benefits of paying a living wage, including an annual Best Lewisham Employer of the Year Award.

Alan Hall: I agree, and I would like to take this even further by introducing a specific Lewisham Living Wage.

Paul Maslin: The Council is already committed to seeing the Living Wage paid across Lewisham. I think all candidates, whether they become Mayor or not, would continue to work with partners to pursue this policy.

EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS

Alongside the above we want to ensure employment rights and conditions are in place for all employees in the borough. This includes ending the exploitation associated with zero hours’ contracts and the “gig economy” and the right to join a union, organise it and have that union recognised by employers in the borough.

Paul Bell: I will ban all zero hours’ contracts from any contractor to Lewisham Council. My goal is to bring services in-house so all employees benefit from NJC negotiated T&Cs. I believe in trade unions. All new employees will be invited to join a trade union. I will personally meet with them and ask them to join one of the recognised trade unions. I will explain the importance of doing so. All staff inductions will have the trade unions present. All contracts that we cannot bring in-house at the start will have to show they recognise trade unions and are a unionised workplace.

Damien Egan: Too many people are forced to accept exploitative working conditions by employers who are unwilling to offer decent employment protection. I fully support Lewisham Council’s stance against blacklisting of union members, which – thanks to the successful lobbying by unions – now includes new express anti-blacklisting conditions for new contractors. I will launch a “Lewisham Works Better” campaign by the Council aimed at both employers and employees which sets out the protections that should be in place in all employment (including union recognition) and encourage employees to join unions.

Alan Hall: As I said to Unite the Union at the meeting where they endorsed my candidature, “The council needs to pull all the levers at its command, including those through the supply chain in order to prevent poor pay and working conditions in the so-called ‘gig economy’.” This includes zero hour contracts. I am a lifelong trade unionist. I am supported by Unite the Union, CWU and Aslef. I am committed to working with trade unions to develop the Lewisham Labour Party Manifesto for 2018, and I look forward to your input.

Paul Maslin: Anyone who has looked at the literature outlining the rise in inequality across the developed world since the late 1970s, will know that one of the main causes is believed to be the decline in the power of trade unions. My aim would be to make sure that all jobs in Lewisham were decently paid, secure jobs carried out in good conditions and to work with all our partners to do that. This would obviously include the trade unions.

HOUSING

We wish to ensure that there is coherent and adequate social housing provision across the borough.

Paul Bell: Housing policy to be launched shortly. I will build 800 council homes and 800 homes at living rent for key workers. I will rigorously pursue empty properties and create a new team to deal with homelessness in the borough. I will oppose RTB and encourage against it, pursue bad landlords and force housing associations to provide decent and well-managed homes.

Damien Egan: My number one priority as Mayor will be to tackle the housing crisis head-on. As cabinet member for housing I have overseen the first council homes built in Lewisham in over 30 years and innovative ways to provide decent homes for homeless families (Place Ladywell) and homes owned by the Council available for affordable and secure private rent (Besson Street). But these measures can only be seen as a start to a radical housing strategy that will be at the heart of an administration I lead: ● The biggest social house-building programme ever seen in Lewisham, with a minimum of 1,000 new social homes ● A new generation of council-owned homes for private rent, using German- style long-term contracts and rent controls ● A policy of never selling council land to housing developers ● Introduce full licensing for every private landlord in the borough ● Use existing legislation to enforce against empty properties and campaign for more powers to compel landlords to rent empty properties ● No Millwall CPO.

Alan Hall: I have said, “We desperately need more Council housing in Lewisham. With imagination and vision, we can provide good quality social housing, community facilities and jobs for local people. As Mayor, I will fight to ensure that the GLA, developers and Lewisham Council work together to build far more social and truly affordable housing.” Ten years ago, I became a board member of Phoenix Community Housing Coop, a tenant-led housing association which provides social/council housing across Downham and Bellingham. The Co-op has gone from success to success, and Phoenix was named by 24housing as one of England’s top ten social housing landlords in 2017. What’s more, we are about to open a 60 apartment extra-care complex which will free up much needed social housing in the borough.

Paul Maslin: Firstly, we must stop blaming developers, local Councillors and Planning Officers for the consequences of Tory and previously Tory-Lib Dem Coalition policies. The decision to cut the grant given to developers to build social housing by two-thirds and the consequent switch away from low rent housing to so-called ‘affordable’ housing, which
is outside the reach of those who most need it, was obviously going to have a devastating impact that Labour Councils would be powerless to prevent. Secondly, we need to aim higher and do better. Although our manifesto commitment to build 500 new Council homes by 2018, so far only 17 have been completed. Thirdly, we need to
be more imaginative and less ideological. We must advocate for policies and partnerships that some people don’t like, so long as they deliver results that are fair, transparent, in the public interest and better than the available alternatives. Luton’s Labour Council formed a partnership with private equity firm Cheyne Capital to build 80 new homes for social rent for tenants nominated by the Council. This is zoned as social housing in perpetuity, with the Council having been awarded the maintenance contract, creating local jobs. Other boroughs are building similar schemes. A further benefit of the Luton scheme is that because the Council doesn’t own the land or the homes, the new properties are not subject to Right to Buy. If the new Mayor refuses to sell land to developers because of a wish to build traditional ‘council housing’, then that is a commitment to perpetuating Right to Buy, and the subsequent loss of decent homes. I believe that a changing world compels Labour in Lewisham to be ambitious and think differently.

EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING

We wish to implement programmes to increase employment and training opportunites for all, especially for younger people. This has to include reversing the cuts imposed at Lewisham and Southwark College.

Paul Bell: I will look into this. I am not sure what power the Council has over the College, but I will work with the trade unions to protect FE in the borough.

Damien Egan: We need to equip more of our people with the skills and experience they need so that can they fulfill their aspirations in whatever vocation on they choose. That is simply not possible without a comprehensive provision
of further education and workplace training across Lewisham. As Mayor I will: ● Double Lewisham Council’s apprenticeship programme places using the new Apprenticeship Levy and encouraging local businesses to provide more places. ● Conduct a review of all 16+ education provision in the borough to include Lewisham and Southwark College and all adult educatioon centres in order to establish where provision is lacking and how it can be provided ● Launch a Disability Commission to be led by residents with disabilities to advise on how to make Lewisham more accessible, including education and training for those with disabilities.

Alan Hall: I met Carole Kitching the Principal of Lewisham & Southwark College, last week. I raised the issue of cuts and staff relations with her. It is truly shocking that further education has suffered swingeing cuts of a similar level to those at the Council. I have been and I will continue to work with the College to ensure that Lewisham has access to good quality Further Education, including vocational training and apprenticeships. In addition, I will prioritise lifelong learning. Of course, I oppose the closure of Catford Job Centre and proper support for those who find themselves out of work is essential in a decent society.

Paul Maslin: What has happened to the funding of Further Education across the country is a scandal. We need properly funded FE provision. I oppose the Tory cuts to FE as I have opposed Tory cuts to the funding to our schools.

COUNCIL UNIONS

We seek a guarantee of recognition and consultation with all unions who represent staff working for the council and its contractors.

Paul Bell: The council trade unions will negotiate directly with me. The chair of the trade side will sit on Cabinet. No council contract will be let unless the company recognises trade unions. All contracts will have to pay the London Living Wage. However, I believe in in-sourcing. So, new contracts will be few in number. I will adopt UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter. In Lewisham, trade unions will be a partner of a Labour and involved in decision making. We must fight against austerity and generate resources together. We will be the first “Trade Union Council” in the country. I will foster links with other councils willing to adopt our approach of: 1. In-sourcing 2. Fighting austerity 3. Trading services and building partnerships with other public-sector bodies 4. Non-compulsory redundancies 5. Working collectively for workers’ rights.

Damien Egan: Lewisham Council staff need better recognition on of the challenges they face as the Council has had to adjust to the harsh cuts not only to Council funds but to all other public services that affect Lewisham residents. As Mayor, I will: ● Hold regular informal meetings with union representatives to discuss areas of concern as they arise ● Reinstate the use of the Works Council for employment disputes that cannot be resolved with officers.

Alan Hall: I am proud that I have been endorsed by the Trade Unions. I have no hesitation in giving you this guarantee. I think
it would be useful for you and your members to know that I have secured the endorsement of John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, and I look forward to working with him, the rest of the Shadow Cabinet, Trade Unions and the wider Labour movement. Your views on the above will not only assist our members in deciding who they vote for, but will hopefully assist both council politicians and the unions shape a positive future for Lewisham and its residents in the future. I hope that you and Lewisham Trades Council will join Unite the Union, Aslef and the CWU in endorsing my candidature.

Paul Maslin: I would agree with this.

 

 

FIGHT ELITISM: Stand With Community Development &Youth Work At Goldsmiths College

(Downloadable PDF version of this letter available here)

Background

  • The management team of the Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies Department (STaCS), have launched an unprecedented attack on the part time staff of its highly successful BA Degree in Applied Social Science, Community Development and Youth Work (BAASSCD&YW) – the only remaining full time community and youth work degree in London 2016-17.
  • Over the past two years the programme has recruited increased numbers of students and as a result, has generated a substantial increase in levels of income.
  • Under the guise of a ‘staff restructure’ management are proposing to use these resources to replace a diverse group of up to 6 part-time staff with 2-3 full time staff who are either engaged in doctoral level research or who have completed a PhD, in order to meet departmental research priorities, in particular to improve grant capture and REF ratings.
  • The BAASSCD&YW course, which has a student cohort of 81% BME students, is being singled out as these departmental research priorities are not being applied across the department.
  • The students are outraged, as they are already challenging management for cutting their contact hours from over 200 hours to 120 hours per year.

 BA programme strengths – values and ethos

The Programme was thoroughly revised last year and has also undergone internal reviews and external National Youth Agency reviews this year – all have highlighted that academic rigour, equality and social justice and relevant professional practice are embedded in the programme and praised the existing diverse staff team, for example;

  • ..changes will strengthen what is already a well-regarded BA Programme…The continued commitment of the teaching staff will be vital in ensuring its future (BA Review Final Report, 2016)
  • The programme team were praised for their academic, community engagement, current practice (NYA Validation Report 2016 section 7, p9)

Both past and present students, also appreciate the diversity of the current staff team’s academic expertise and interests along with their up to date and relevant professional practice.

  • NSS results 2016 show; overall satisfaction (95%); the course is intellectually stimulating (95%); staff are enthusiastic about what they are teaching (95%); staff have made subject interesting (100%).

Students comments about the programme:

‘I have enjoyed the passion the lecturers have shown for their subjects and the support they have offered. Intellectually prompting lectures,…would recommend this course to everyone and anyone.

The group training has helped me to develop both personally and practically. Lecturers are passionate about teaching and about their own continued work within youth and community.

The CD&YW course has really challenged me to think differently and equipped me with skills to be an effective practitioner.

The tutors have been very supportive.’ (NSS, 2016)

Potential impact

STaCS restructure proposal departs from Goldsmiths organisational change policy – management refuse to job match as staff are not on teaching and research contracts and they are not trying meaningfully to mitigate against redundancy. The restructure is being vigorously challenged by academic staff, students (via the college Student Union) and Goldsmiths University and College Union (GUCU) members – industrial action is likely.

  • Management have presented a flawed rationale and no evidence that the recruitment of such staff on this professionally endorsed degree programme will improve the quality of teaching and learning, or enhance students’ overall experience.
  • The imposition of this untimely and totally unexpected management proposal will disrupt the progress of existing students and those students entering the revised programme
  • It will have an overwhelming negative impact on BME staff and BME students who comprise 81%
  • It disregards long-standing, highly regarded academic and professional skills and expertise of existing staff
  • It represents a trend in HE which must be resisted.

Support Requested from Stakeholders

We urge the BAASSCDYW wider community of stakeholders, who have supported the programme over several years, to write to the Warden, (Patrick Loughrey, email: warden@ gold.ac.uk) expressing concern that part time staff are unnecessarily under the threat of redundancies and the potential impact on the programme, recommending that the existing staff (who have been repeatedly refused time to pursue research activities), should be supported to pursue research activities and should be valued and retained. We would also ask that you send a copy and messages of support to gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk.

Keep up to date with news and further actions:

https://goldsmiths.org @Goldsmithsucu #fightelitism #standwithcdyw

Campaign Materials:

PDF copies of this campaign letter are available here

Fight Elitism Campaign flyers are also available – email gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk if you would like us to send you some

STACS RESTRUCTURE: Members Urge Management To Halt Proposals

UCU members packed into a very well attended emergency meeting today (Thursday 13 June 2017) to discuss defending members and jobs in the Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies (STACS).  This is a response to the proposed restructuring of the BA Applied Social Science Community Development and Youth Work – a highly successful course run by an excellent and experienced team of staff some of whose jobs are now at risk. At the meeting GUCU members passed the following motion unanimously.

Potential redundancies in STACS

Motion passed unanimously at GUCU EGM 13 July 2017

Goldsmiths UCU branch wishes to express its concerns about the ongoing consultation over the proposed restructuring of the BA Applied Social Science Community Development and Youth Work in the Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies.  This is a highly successful programme, with experienced and dedicated staff, which has been praised by internal and external reviews in the last 12 months. Yet the restructure is likely to lead to redundancies of several part-time staff.

We do not consider this process to be an example of meaningful consultation as in college policies related to managing organisational change.

  1. The original rationale for the restructure that was communicated to the SMT has now changed. In any case the UCU officers and at-risk staff consider both the initial and revised rationales to be flawed and lacking in evidence.
  2. The consultation process has departed from agreed procedures for organisation change.
  3. There has there been, up to this point, no effort to avoid or mitigate the risk of redundancies.

We therefore urge management:

  1. To halt this restructure proposal in the best interests of the programme, students and staff;
  2. To give assurances that all the colleagues currently employed will remain in post to teach on the BA with increased hours where necessary;
  3. To also provide colleagues, as appropriate, with increased hours for opportunities to engage in research and to undertake PhD study.

If management refuse to suspend the consultation, then the branch will consider what action is appropriate to defend members’ interests.

  1. This branch will support industrial action in defence of its members.
  2. This branch will Instigate a campaign to inform wider stakeholders and the student body

UCU CONGRESS 2017: Report from the GUCU President, Marian Carty