A week into three weeks of strike action at Goldsmiths University of London (23 November to 13 December), the local branch of the University and College Union (UCU) is now looking at ways to escalate and diversify the dispute.
For example, the branch plans to request the national union applies an academic boycott on Goldsmiths. If agreed, the national union will back up the local dispute, now that it is facing management intransigence, by asking for external academics to avoid contact with the university in a smaller or larger range of ways. That could include: not speaking and lecturing at the college, declining visiting positions, not writing for the institution’s journals.
In the meantime an impressive programme of daily teach-outs involving hundreds of students and staff has gathered pace on topics from “Design of Resistance”, to casualisation of labour, to Palestinian solidarity.
The Senior Management Team (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. A demonstration through Lewisham protesting against the deal with the banks will take place at 12 noon on 2 December.
UCU’s firm line is working. The threat of strike action has, the union branch says, spurred the SMT to propose a “reduction in the number of redundancies being proposed for staff in student-facing services.” However, 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