The pay deal is a pay cut

Members will have been sent an electronic voting paper in relation to the pay offer. The offer is for a 2% rise next year (2014/5) which leaves us with nothing more than the 1%​ for this year (2013/4) that has already been imposed.

The positive news is that 2% is double the initial 1% offer, likely to be just above inflation, and the offer clearly leaves national bargaining intact.

The negative side is that the offer leaves us with only 1% for the year in which we are (still) in dispute, 2013/4, and 2% for next year, 2014-5. Accepting the offer would mean we have effectively failed in the 2013/4 dispute and will have signed up to a deal that totally fails to provide the catch-up we need. The extras, i.e. £30 added to the bottom spine, are hardly enough to sweeten the deal. This has long been UCEA’s agenda: to offer something more for next year while moving on from this year’s dispute. Be clear: accepting 2% for next year means that this year’s dispute is definitely ended.

In the light of this, your UCU Executive is recommending rejection. We understand that improving the 1% offer will not be easy but we are convinced of our cause: the employers are sitting on a significant surplus and and we must continue to apply pressure to win the deal we deserve.

In terms of the marking boycott, now suspended until 6 May, management have indicated to UCU at Goldsmiths that if ‘staff privately mark and park, there would be no “need” for pay deductions’ and, furthermore, ‘there would be no “legal” questions about the ownership of marked work.’

Members met on the 16th of April to consider this offer. We welcomed the offer and agreed that while we continue to fully support the marking boycott and will not process marks or administer the marking process, we are committed to the principle of reconciling marks as soon as possible on conclusion of the dispute.

Marking Boycott Starts 28th April!

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UCU’s marking boycott is due to start on 28 April. This is the latest part of our national dispute with the employers in response to their 1% pay offer which is on the back of a 13% pay cut over the last 5 years. We are reluctant to take this course of action but feel that we have little alternative if we are to drag the employers back into serious negotiations.

The boycott will involve not marking work, not circulating marks, not providing feedback to students and not taking part in administrative duties that pertain directly to processing marks.

There are some excellent FAQs from UCU at http://fairpay.web.ucu.org.uk/instructions-for-the-marking-boycott/#.Uy2821wQfHg and Goldsmiths Students Union (http://www.goldsmithssu.org/news/article/6013/Marking-Boycott-101/

An action committee to coordinate preparation will meet on Friday, 28 March at 1pm RHB 139. All are welcome to join.

Two Hour Strike, Monday 10th February: Picket Lines and Virtual Picketing

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Our next two-hour strike action, part of our ongoing dispute over pay, will take place between 9 and 11am on Monday 10th February.

We will have picket lines outside the college. The branch’s executive committee has voted for a ‘virtual picket’ to take place at this time as well, with members using the time to email the warden directly. Suggested text has already been sent out; if you are a member and haven’t received this, email gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk

This action is a response to the employers’ offer of a mere 1% pay rise, amounting to a very substantial cut in pay when compared to inflation and cost of living rises; for more information and resources please see http://fairpay.web.ucu.org.uk/

Why We Are Striking Today

VC Salaries in Context

Source http://www.dhirajmurthy.com/fairpayinhe/

Employers are still only offering a 1% pay rise, amounting to a massive decrease in real terms for Higher Education Staff pay. In spite of this, across the country wardens and vice-chancellors are receiving much larger pay rises (including here at Goldsmiths). The sector reports record surpluses but still refuses to pay staff fairly. For these reasons, UCU will be taking strike action today (Thursday 6th February), along with other Higher Education staff unions.

To find out more about the context of this dispute, have a look at this article on openDemocracy, from our own branch secretary:http://tinyurl.com/of4dsk4

Reports from today’s debate and last week’s rally

At the end of the second of our weekly two-hour strikes, a quick report on the activity we’ve engaged in:

Thursday 23/01/14: UCU officers address a rally outside the RHB

Thursday 23/01/14: UCU officers address a rally outside the RHB

Last week our rally outside the Richard Hoggart Building drew around one hundred and fifty staff and students to hear speeches from UCU members and march with us to the Deptford Town Hall.

28/01/14: Goldsmiths UCU President addresses the crowd outside the college

28/01/14: Goldsmiths UCU President addresses the crowd outside the college

Today, after a quick rally in front of the college where Goldsmiths UCU President Tom Henri addressed a large crowd of staff and students, we hosted a fantastic open discussion in the Students’ Union. Led by officers of UCU and the Students’ Union, questions and statements from the floor put the strike in the wider context of the privatisation and marketisation of education, both here at Goldsmiths and nationally across the UK, and debated about the next stages of the struggle. Attended by between 160 and 200 people, the atmosphere was brilliant and set the stage for taking the struggle further.

28/01/14: Goldsmiths UCU Secretary kicks off an open discussion in the SU

28/01/14: Goldsmiths UCU Secretary kicks off an open discussion in the SU

After the discussion we marched to Deptford Town Hall, where students chanted for the warden to come out and explain why he has taken a 9% raise while staff have only been offered a measly 1% – amounting to a cut in real terms of up to 16%. At 4pm we returned to work – but staff and students have given a clear message to management: the dispute is far from over, and we have the energy and the will to keep the pressure on.

28/01/14: Led by UCU and SU officers, staff and students gathered outside Deptford Town Hall

28/01/14: Led by UCU and SU officers, staff and students gathered outside Deptford Town Hall

Tuesday 28th Jan: 2 Hour Strike, 2-4pm

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The second of our series of two hour strikes will take place tomorrow – Tuesday the 28th of January – from 2pm until 4pm.

We will be hosting an open discussion on the next steps of the struggle in the stretch at 2:15pm.

Please let us know if you think your pay will be affected by the action. We can offer compensation for docked pay, particularly for hourly paid staff.

This strike will form part of national action currently being undertaken by UCU in support of Fair Pay in Higher Education. See http://fairpay.web.ucu.org.uk/ for more information.

Leaflet for 3rd December strike

Why are we striking?

For a decent pay award…

Since 2009, UCU members in higher education (HE) have had pay cuts resulting in an average cumulative loss of 13%. At the same time, money from student tuition fees is pouring into the HE sector, creating an operating surplus of over £2 billion.

Not everyone, however, is in the same boat. The assault on wages is happening at the same time as an unprecedented boom for those at the top. Over 2500 people in higher education earn more than £100,000 a year; at Goldsmiths, this number has increased from 1 to 4 in the last year! Half of all vice-chancellors earn over £242,000 a year, with our own Warden receiving a 9% pay increase this year. Meanwhile, ordinary staff face increased casualisation, rising workloads and cuts to pensions.

…but in the context of the Government’s assault on universities

Youth unemployment now stands at nearly one million. Yet instead of investing properly in post-16 education, the government has trebled tuition fees and scrapped the Education Maintenance Allowance in order to drive down demand for continuing education during a recession. It has, however, shown not just disregard for the lives of young people but staggering incompetence in overseeing its own market reforms. The budget of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will have to be cut by some £1.4 billion in the next two years to pay for the increased demand for loans, a substantial part of which is generated by students in private colleges that have few of the restraints placed on publicly regulated institutions. This is a market literally out of control.

We are told that – just as university and college employers “cannot afford” a decent pay rise despite money in the bank – market reforms of further and higher education were necessary at a time of austerity. But the government’s introduction of fees and loans was never about saving money. It was designed to massage the public accounts and demonstrate its love of free enterprise. Yet the claim by universities minister, David Willetts, that the recent sell-off of student debt from the 1990s – worth £890 million but sold for £160 million – represented ‘good value for money, helping to reduce public sector net debt’ is laughable. Not only is his understanding of what constitutes ‘good value’ demented; the idea that reducing the country’s net debt by 0.000133% is of any significance is risible. This is not about good value but about an ideological commitment to free markets – whatever the cost to the public.

And the cost has been huge – not simply in terms of massively increased student debt, but in widening social inequality. Since 2010/11, part-time undergraduate numbers have fallen by some 40%, with a 27% drop in postgraduates. Even the official regulator, HEFCE, admitted that these decreases ‘are likely to have implications for equality and diversity’ and to have a disproportionate impact on non-traditional students, mature students and men from disadvantaged backgrounds. This is at the same time that young people living in richer parts of the country are between six and nine times more likely to go to selective universities.

The pay dispute must be seen in this wider context: a neoliberal restructuring of post-16 education that is set to reward the wealthy and to target the poor, and to introduce competition, market forces and private actors into the delivery of higher education whenever possible.

In this context, the pay dispute should be fought not simply as a battle over a few hundred pounds but also over the future of an education system being ravaged by the ideological desire of successive governments to make it function just like any other private institution.

Leaflet for strike on 03/12/13

Press release for tomorrow’s strike, Tuesday 3rd December

Goldsmiths College trade unions on strike 3rd December 2013

Trade unions representing the staff at Goldsmiths College have called for further strike action.  On Tuesday 3rd December, members of UCU and UNISON, representing staff from porters to professors, will walk out at in protest at the 1% pay offer from the employers.  Taking into account the sector-wide pay freeze since 2009, this amounts to a pay cut in real terms of 13%. During this period we have seen senior management salaries rise faster than inflation and universities accumulating huge surpluses since the tripling of student fees.

Below is an open letter to Pat Loughrey, the Warden (Vice-Chancellor) of Goldsmiths from the members of Goldsmiths branch of the UCU.

On Tuesday 3rd December lecturers and support staff at Goldsmiths will be taking strike action for the second time this year and we would like to make clear our reasons for this. For the fifth successive year UCEA, the employers organisation, have made an offer to increase pay by 1%, well below the current rate of inflation. In effect both lecturers and support staff have seen their incomes fall by 13% since 2008.

Over the same period, student fees have been increased to £9,000 a year for home students and upwards of £11,000 for international students. Thanks to successful recruitment and the acknowledged high quality of degree courses at Goldsmiths the University has managed to maintain a healthy operating surplus, some of which has been invested in improving the state of the teaching accommodation. Sadly this has not been extended to investing in the majority of the staff all of whom make a substantial contribution to the success of Goldsmiths.

While salaries of lecturers and support staff have declined in real terms, the same cannot be said of the Warden who has recently been awarded a 9% pay rise and benefits from a pension contribution far in excess of the annual salary of most support staff. We would like to congratulate him on his success in helping secure the place of Goldsmiths in a global marketplace but would remind him of the contribution to this of everyone who works here. A few crumbs from the top table wouldn’t go amiss.

General Meeting next Thursday

Next Thursday (19th of September) the branch will be hosting a very important general meeting. Paul Bridge, UCU National HE Official, will be joining us to discuss the current national pay dispute.

Across the UK, university staff have suffered four years of pay erosion representing a real terms pay cut of 13% in the value of their take-home pay. For this academic year (2013-14), they have been offered another below-inflation pay increase of just 1%. A consultative ballot has shown an overwhelming rejection (70%) of this pitiful offer among members.

We will also be inviting a speaker from the Lewisham Hospital campaign to talk to us about the demonstration at the Conservative party conference on the 27th of September, for which the campaign are organising transport from South London.

Please print off a poster and display it in your department – and do spread the word among colleagues. The pay dispute is a hugely important issue for all of us, and this will be an important opportunity to discuss it.

Assimilation of Hourly-Paid Staff onto the Pay Spine: Ballot Overwhelmingly in Favour

The branch has voted overwhelmingly for the agreement to bring hourly-paid staff onto the single pay spine.
Many thanks to everyone who voted, and again our congratulations and thanks to our negotiators who have worked hard on this agreement for so long.

If you still have concerns or queries about how this agreement will affect you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk