Action Points from the AGM

The branch’s AGM was very well attended, with a healthy debate about how to proceed with the pensions dispute, informed suggestions and a strong will to take action.

The minutes can be read here

Some of the key action points from the meeting:

– Tom Henri, president, said that the proposed changes to the pension scheme represent the single biggest attack on our pay and conditions we’ve yet seen. These changes could mean losses of thousands of pounds for higher education workers. Our guest speaker Simon Renton, the outgoing national president of UCU, made it clear that right now the priority is to get the vote out. We need a vote of yes for strike action and yes for action short of a strike – and we need as high a turn-out as possible. So use your vote, talk to colleagues about the issue and encourage them to use theirs and publicise the dispute in any way you can.

– There were some really strong suggestions about types of action we could take in this dispute – please keep them coming, both to your branch executive committee (via and to UCU nationally (Simon offered to take suggestions directly at

– Des Freedman, secretary, reminded us that our strength as a branch comes with responsibility. We need more reps (and for reps to be more active) and more caseworkers to make sure that we’re effective as well as strong – both in terms of representing individual members and in terms of improving the conditions of all staff. We still have a vacancy for health and safety rep., and our treasurer has asked for someone either willing to take over the role or to share it – so please contact us if you are interested in either position or if you are interested in becoming a caseworker –

Pensions Dispute – Act now to save your pension

Your pension next!

By now you will have heard that the USS fund is at least £7bn in deficit.  The employers and the pensions regulator are going to use this astronomical sum to do away with your final salary pension.  This figure of £7bn is magical accounting – the USS fund is highly solvent (see Dennis Leech’s blog for more on this  This attack on your pension is both ideological and unnecessary.


What does this mean for you?

Let’s assume that you live for 17 years beyond retirement.  If the changes to the pension benefits the employers are trying to implement become reality then:

As a lecturer you could lose over £70,000
As a senior lecturer you could lose over £140,000
As a professor you could lose over £290,000

 We have to act fast. The employers intend to have the new benefits structure in place by March 2015.

 We will need a HUGE campaign to defend our pension entitlements and we encourage you to vote YES to strike action and action short of a strike in the upcoming ballot (1st to 20th October).

 If UCU negotiators can go to the employers with the knowledge that they have a mandate from the membership for industrial action and a dynamic campaign – we have a much greater chance of saving our pensions.

 Also, it’s worth having a close read of the article about the upcoming dispute on the time higher website ​ – particularly the bit about previously accrued benefits. This is going to get messy!​

More details of the ballot can be found at

 The exec recommend voting YES to taking action on this urgent issue.

Goldsmiths UCU EGM Weds Sept 5th 12pm NABLG01

As delegates for the special USS conference of 13/09/2012 have to be elected by next Thursday and amendments submitted by Friday, the Secretary and President have agreed to hold an Emergency General Meeting next Wednesday (5th September) at 12 noon. The meeting will take place in NABLG01. All members are encouraged to take note of these important developments and to attend the meeting.


1) USS Dispute – update ahead of special USS conference, Sept 13th.

All members are encouraged to read the motions for the special pensions conference which are at

Members are reminded that we are working to contract to challenge the changes imposed on the pension scheme. More information is available at Campaign materials and posters will be made available at the meeting.

2) Pay Claim for 2012/13

Members are asked to read UCUHE165 which updates branches on the failure of the employers’ representatives at the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) to improve their final offer despite resolution meetings, reminds branches of the Higher Education Committee (HEC) approved ballot and campaign timetable and informs of the trade dispute letter that has been sent to each employer.

The document is available at

3) UKBA threatening nearly 3000 London Met students with deportation

Last week the UK Border Agency (UKBA) revoked London Metropolitan University’s power to teach or recruit international students, leaving nearly 3,000 students facing deportation unless they can find another place to study within 60 days. Please see and for today’s news reports on the subject.

UCU has issued a statement condemning UKBA’s ‘chaotic’ approach, and the ‘damaging message’ it sends to the rest of the world:

We will continue to post updates on the situation from our twitter @GoldsmithsUCU

Goldsmiths UCU Meeting June 26th 1pm RHB 137

Our next General Meeting will take place on June 26th at 1pm, RHB 137. At this meeting there will be a report on the resumption of the USS dispute, which was voted for at UCU’s national congress last week. There will also be a report from Tom Henri, who was our delegate at congress this year.

We are pleased to report that Goldsmiths UCU’s amendment to motion HE8, asking UCU to oppose the National Student Survey and to urge members not to comply with the NSS, was passed overwhelmingly. A full rundown of congress is available at

The meeting will include a speaker on the Quebec student protests, and the government’s draconian responses (there’s a good selection of articles on this at, as well as a motion to create ‘Goldsmiths United Against Austerity’ in preparation for the TUC rally in October.

Please see the agenda and text of the motion below.


1. USS dispute is back on
2. Report from Congress (Tom Henri)
3. Speaker from Quebec
4. Goldsmiths United against Austerity (motion)


Goldsmiths UCU notes:

1. That the Coalition government has still to implement 80 percent of its cuts programme.

2. That the TUC has called an anti-austerity demonstration on 20 October 2012 that is supported by UCU.
This branch believes:

1. That the Coalition government’s plans are an attack on the welfare state and that they will increase unemployment, squeeze education and inflict the most severe reduction in the living standards of working people since the 1930s. They encourage scapegoating of pensioners, women, black people, disabled people, students, young people, and migrant workers.

2. That the TUC demonstration must become a rallying point for mass resistance to the austerity programme.

3. That a campaign of mass mobilization for the TUC demonstration through the unions, anti-cuts organisations, welfare groups, student unions, political organisations, equality campaigners etc must begin now.

This branch resolves:

1. To circulate material to build for the TUC demonstration.

2. To support the creation of ‘Goldsmiths United against Austerity’ in conjunction with other campus unions to build for the demonstration.

Proposed Des Freedman

TPS members on strike tomorrow

Tomorrow (Thursday 10th May), UCU members with their pensions on the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) will go on strike alongside members of PCS and Unite unions.  There is also a London-wide march from St Thomas’s hospital at 12 noon going to a rally at the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster 1pm, at which Oxford UCU President Terry Hoad is to speak. Although members at Goldsmiths are on the USS pension scheme, we still need to show solidarity. Members are encouraged in particular to join the picket lines at Lewisham College, Lewisham Way campus from 8am.

The elections in Greece and France, as well as the strength of the anti-Coalition vote here in the UK last week, have shown that resistance to a Neo-Liberal agenda of austerity has gained momentum. A statement from UCULeft, sent out today, reminded members that ‘UCU members, like other Public Sector workers, have just suffered the first instalment of the “austerity tax” through increased pension contributions taken from our April pay. That is reason enough to get out on the picket lines and rallies tomorrow to make common cause with civil servants, hospitals and others, let alone the other cuts to our pensions which face us.’

More information, include live updates from strikers around the country, can be found at

Important Update on USS Dispute: Action Suspended

A special conference of all the institutions involved in the USS dispute met on Jan 31 and agreed by 66-41 votes to suspend the current industrial action in order to pursue negotiations with the employers. The employers had offered to extend the right to an unreduced pension on redundancy from October 2013 to October 2014 and to review the specific terms of the new CARE (career average) scheme that was imposed in October – but only on condition that UCU suspends the work to contract.

UCU negotiators recommended taking up this offer – the plan being to use the better aspects of TPS (Teachers’ Pension Scheme) as a bargaining tool – and insisted that this does not mean that the dispute has now ended but simply that the current action will be suspended while talks on these two areas are carried out. If talks do not lead anywhere, we have been assured that the dispute will be ‘reignited’ and further industrial action organised.

There was a vigorous debate about whether to suspend action, continue with the work to contract or to escalate (a position adopted by our branch). We pointed out that it may not be easy to relaunch the action, especially if we are out of sync with other public sector workers (many of whom have rejected the government’s latest offer). In the end, however, it was felt
that the aim of our summer ballot (to bring the employers back to the negotiating table) had been achieved and that therefore it was legitimate to freeze the dispute.

We will of course discuss the implications of this decision at forthcoming general meetings and to consider our response. In the meantime, we would like to thank all members for their support in this dispute and to assure you that we will monitor the progress of the negotiations very carefully.

General Meeting 25 Jan 2012: Call for Motions on USS Dispute

The branch’s General Meeting will take place at 12noon on Wednesday the 25th of January in the Ben Pimlott Building Lecture Theatre.

A special sector conference on the USS dispute has been called for 31 January. We need, at the general meeting, to pass relevant motions and to select delegates. Motions must relate only to the current USS dispute and be no longer than 150 words. Please send motions to by 11 January.

Don’t Give Up The Fight On Pensions

The following statement, “Don’t give up on pensions”, has been launched by a number of leading trade union activists. Please sign it now and circulate it as widely as possible.

Sign the statement here:

The government’s “final offer” is no improvement. There is no extra money on offer. The government still wants public sector workers to work longer, pay more and get less. They haven’t moved on core issues:

  • Fifty percent rise in pension contributions.
  • Normal pension age to rise to the state retirement age. Retirement at 68 for those 34 and under.
  • Pensions indexed at CPI instead of RPI. A cut for all existing pensioners.

We agree with those union general secretaries who are against accepting this offer. We ask all union general secretaries, if it was right to strike against these proposals on November 30th how it can be right to accept them now? Ordinary trade union members have demonstrated their determination to resist these unfair and unnecessary changes; we call on our trade union leaders reject the Government’s bullying tactics and reject their unacceptable offer.