You will have received an email from Chris Pearson yesterday urging you to vote no in the forthcoming ballots and encouraging those who do not have a vote to persuade their friends with votes also to vote no.

We believe that it is totally inappropriate to communicate with ALL staff effectively asking them to interfere with a democratic ballot.

Many people will simply ignore Chris Pearson’s comments and many others will think that they are likely simply to backfire on management. We will of course be formally asking for a “right to reply” but leave it to your discretion as to how you may wish to pursue the matter.

It is, however, worth noting several things for context:

Nowhere in CP’s comments does he mention that these are NATIONAL ballots; Nowhere does he give us an indication of the salary sacrifices that SMT are presumably making in these hard times;

Nowhere does he acknowledge that UCU are prevented from using GC Info from putting our side of the story. Indeed when your reps formally asked management either to run a consultative ballot for all USS members at Goldsmiths on the proposed pension changes or to send out a GC Info with the UCU perspective, they refused. Only much later, after a request from an individual member, did they finally circulate at least some UCU information on USS reforms.

We all fully understand that the university sector, among others, is going through a difficult period. We also understand that structural changes to our pension scheme now will never be reversed. And there is absolutely no reason why employers should NOT be prepared to sign up to basic principles on avoiding redundancies that are no more than a simple fulfilment of good employment practice. Our Warden talks often about incentivising staff to deliver the innovative courses and practices that will help us grow out of this recession – a 0.4% increase in pay is more like a kick in the teeth.

This ballot is just as much about the future of Higher Education as the vote on fees. The students understand that and have voted to officially support the ballot. It’s shame that our management don’t.

Ballot papers should be arriving from tomorrow. Please return them as soon as possible and, in the spirit of democratic debate amongst trade union members, urge your colleagues who may have a vote to use it to vote YES to industrial action to protect HE provision.

GUCU Executive
17th February 2011