Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 54 Number 12, June 1, 2024 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Workers' Forum

Goldsmiths UCU Resists

We are informed that members of Goldsmiths, University of London, UCU are currently undertaking industrial action in the face of 130 planned redundancies. The redundancies could mean that a quarter of lecturers lose their jobs. The University sector is clearly under attack by the government, with funding for arts and humanities subjects being cut. As is being said, whichever of the cartel parties forms the government, an enlightened education programme which fits the youth of all classes to be the decision-makers for the future of society is being jettisoned in favour of an education system beholden to the aims of a pay-the-rich economy. [1]

It is reported that Goldsmiths Warden Frances Corner, far from defending the institution from such assaults, is accelerating cuts. Responding to her planned attack, Goldsmiths academic staff are increasingly militant and united in their resistance. The ballot for industrial action achieved a "yes" vote of 87% on a turnout of 69% UCU [2].

Currently a marking and assessment boycott (MAB) is being undertaken with lecturers refusing to mark students work. In response, Frances Corner has vowed to deduct 50% of pay, and the Goldsmiths UCU have responded with plans for a strike if Corner goes ahead with such deductions.

A previous round of redundancies, partially halted by earlier industrial action, led to the removal of non-academic staff in departments. The removal of staff and centralisation of services led to chaos with many students having their grades delayed and student numbers reduced. Goldsmiths seems to be in the grip of a doom loop, lecturers say, as the management introduce ill-thought-out cuts that lead to chaos, reducing student numbers and intensifying the need for cuts.

As well as cutting 130 posts, Francis Corner is embarking on the "Transformation Programme". This will sweep away departments, no doubt leading to more chaos and falling student numbers, as well as cutting many student modules.

Goldsmiths UCU argues that the "Transformation Programme" must be scrapped and that, with voluntary severance already cutting staff numbers, a brutal programme of redundancies is unnecessary.

A Goldsmiths UCU Support Fund motion, also supported at an Open University UCU General Meeting on April 30, 2024, affirmed, among other things [3]:

1. SMT [the Senior Management Team] has secured sufficient savings of £10.1 million through redundancy mitigation measures that have included a Voluntary Severance Scheme, vacancy savings and cuts to research budgets.

2. SMT has cash reserves that amply cover the current shortfall and mean that no justification exists for the scale and speed of these cuts.

The marking boycott is strongly supported by academic staff and has the potential to halt SMT plans for redundancies. Goldsmiths UCU notes: "SMT are punishing collective action by cutting 50% pay throughout the Marking & Assessment Boycott. A third of academic staff at Goldsmiths are facing redundancy. Please donate to this fund that we can WIN THIS FIGHT" [4].

1. Earlier this year, Goldsmiths UCU also supported the action of hundreds of students who took part in the occupation of the Stuart Hall building for five weeks in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
2. Goldsmiths staff vote to strike over "incomprehensible" bonfire of jobs.
3. For full motion, see GUCU SUPPORT FUND Motion

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