From 17 Feb to 2 March, the UCU will hold two ballots for industrial action.

They are nationally co-ordinated ballots that will affect members at Goldsmiths:
1) on our 2010 claim
2) on proposed changes to the USS pensions scheme

Why are we balloting?

You will have received an email on Friday from the Director HR that states that ‘UCU has not accepted the pay award and remain in dispute with higher education employers.’ It isn’t the case that UCU has not accepted a ‘pay award'(which in any case is a pay CUT in real terms) but it is the case that university employers have failed in any meaningful way to meet our full claim which involves issues concerning job security and equality as well as pay. These ballots go far behind a narrow preoccupation with our salaries.

Job security under attack

The university sector is in the worst crisis for a generation. Thousands of jobs have already been lost and up to 40,000 more could be at risk as the government has pledged to cut 80% from the teaching budget. The problem is that instead of standing up to government cuts, our employers seen resigned merely to go along with them.

Crucially, for the second year running, the employers have refused to negotiate a nationally-agreed approach to improving job security and defending provision.

They have also failed to address equality issues raised in our claim and offered nothing but a real-terms pay cut.

UCU has not been demanding the impossible. We have merely sought protections that already exist in other sectors such as ensuring early and improved consultation with UCU, a properly supported redeployment system and the right to access regional or national redeployment between institutions. All that is missing is the will on the part of the employers.

This is an attack on the union. If university employers, including Goldsmiths, are allowed to succeed, members should be in no doubt that the attacks on jobs, terms and conditions and pay will be endless and remorseless.

Pensions under attack

In addition, the employers are now openly attacking staff pension schemes. University employers are pushing on with their proposals to downgrade the USS pension scheme in spite of their massive rejection by USS members in two online ballots and despite the fact that the scheme continues to grow and is in good health.

Education under attack

This dispute is not just about jobs and pay or pensions. It’s not just rising fees that damage access to high quality education. Everything that makes it possible to recruit and retain the best staff and to deliver the highest quality teaching and research is under attack. Every cut damages and degrades the quality of education in the UK. The consequences of these attacks will be felt not just by every UCU member, but by every person who seeks to benefit from higher education in the UK.

This is why we need your support.

VOTE YES in the ballot on pay and jobs, and YES in the ballot on pensions.

Read more about the national ballot in HE here.

If you have not received your ballot papers by 24 February 2011 email