Three weeks of strike action began at Goldsmiths University of London on Tuesday 23 November with picketing, a strike rally and the start of an extensive teach-out programme. The first day of action was the culmination of weeks of preparation, and the product of a determination to beat redundancies and damaging restructuring at the college.
The day before the strike, Goldsmiths Warden (top manager) Frances Corner issued a disingenuous message (one of many) urging University and College Union (UCU) members to call off their strike, claiming that she is listening, and implying UCU are being obstinate and unreasonable and were specifically refusing an offer of talks with ACAS. The fact is, as the UCU’s reply says, “GUCU officers have been attending negotiations with SMT’s [Senior Management Team] ‘change mangers’ for months, whereas Frances Corner has not attended a single meeting.” Reasonably, UCU are “not prepared to enter into protracted third party talks while our members’ jobs and livelihoods remain on the line.” SMT has threatened to cut 52 jobs this academic year — 20 academics in English and Creative Writing and History and 32 professional services staff. More cuts will follow. They claim the cuts are needed to stick to a deal they have made with banks to reduce the college’s deficit. All the details of those claims have proved flimsy and, in any case, their plans are unjust.
UCU’s firm line is working. The threat of strike action has, the union branch says, spurred the SMT to make “significant concessions, including in a reduction in the number of redundancies being proposed for staff in student facing services.” Until all redundancies are off the table and the restructure (including the centralisation of services) is halted the fight goes on.
• The branch needs to raise a lot of money for the hardship fund, especially to help the most precarious and low-paid staff. Please help by donating to the strike fund, or send cheques/make a transfer to “UCU Goldsmiths College Hardship Fund”, Account number 20392303, Sort: 60-83-01, UCU, Office 4, 18 Laurie Grove, London, SE14 6NH. Live updates on Twitter: @GoldsmithsUCU