Goldsmiths academics to strike over ‘incomprehensible’ redundancies | Goldsmiths, University of London

Staff at Goldsmiths, University of London have voted to strike over plans for an “almost incomprehensible” number of redundancies, a trade union has announced.

More than 87% of University and College Union (UCU) members at the south London institution voted for strike action in a ballot with a turnout of 69%, as well as backing action short of a strike, such as a boycott on marking papers and submissions.

The ballot is in response to what the union described as “extraordinary cuts” under consultation that would lead to almost half the academics in the schools of arts and humanities, culture and society, professional studies, and science technology being axed, representing a cut of 91.5 from 262.9 full-time staff members, and one in six academics at the institution.

The UCU general secretary, Jo Grady, said the scale of the cuts proposed under Goldsmiths’ restructuring programme was “almost incomprehensible”, adding: “It is no wonder that staff have overwhelmingly voted for industrial action. They are not just defending their jobs, they are fighting for the very future of this institution.

“If management succeeds in steamrolling these devastating cuts through, Goldsmiths will be unrecognisable from the great creative powerhouse it currently is. Our members at the university have the union’s full backing, this includes access to our local defence fund to support sustained industrial action.

“We urge management to think again and work with us to protect courses and jobs, otherwise Goldsmiths will see unprecedented industrial unrest.”

The job cuts are the latest in a series of redundancies at Goldsmiths and across higher education, as universities struggle with financial pressures because of the declining real-terms value of tuition fees and falls in international student numbers.

Departments affected include anthropology, English and creative writing, history, music, psychology, sociology, theatre and performance and visual cultures, with some losing half of their staff, according to the UCU, which in an earlier statement said would represent the “biggest assault on jobs at any UK university in recent years”.

Goldsmiths is renowned for its strength in the creative arts and humanities, with graduates including the film director Steve McQueen, the fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, the writer Bernardine Evaristo, the poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, the musician Damon Albarn and the artists Tracey Emin and Antony Gormley.

Michael Rosen, the broadcaster, former children’s poet laureate and professor of children’s literature who has worked at Goldsmiths for 10 years, said: “We’ve challenged ourselves to keep up to date with both tradition and the latest ideas circulating in these worlds and to share these with our students.

“These practices and traditions go back a long way at Goldsmiths and it’s unbearable to think that any of this is under threat from yet more mass redundancies.”

A spokesperson for Goldsmiths said: “Universities across the country are facing difficult challenges borne of a funding system that is widely acknowledged to be no longer fit for purpose. The plans we have set out are aimed at ensuring that Goldsmiths overcomes these issues and continues to extend its unique offer to students.

“It’s regrettable that our students are facing renewed industrial action and we will ensure that their learning is supported. We will continue to work hard to ensure that job losses are kept to a minimum and also to protect arts and humanities subjects in the best way we can.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Back To Top