Defending jobs

Goldsmiths union calls for boycott to back strike

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...

Goldsmiths out for three weeks

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...

Building organisation at Barnoldswick

Workers at the Rolls Royce site in Barnoldswick have voted to accept a new offer from the company in their dispute over staffing at the site. Ross Quinn, a Unite officer involved in the dispute, spoke to Solidarity. The key concession in the settlement is the extension of the no-compulsory-redundancies guarantee to five years. That’s a three-year extension on what was on the table previously. The deal also includes an agreement for a company furlough scheme for up to 70 workers, which is a kind of baseline insurance policy if work streams dry up in future. But that’s not something either party...

Goldsmiths sets 21 days

In a ballot on industrial action against threats of (an initial) 52 redundancies at the college, 70.2% of Goldsmiths UCU members have voted. 93.3% voted for action short of a strike and 85.8% voted to strike. At a branch meeting on Monday 8 November, members voted for 21 days of consecutive strike action starting on 22 November. The huge mandate for action came in the face of increasingly desperate attempts at intimidation by the Senior Management. A letter from the Warden to all students highlighting supposed concern for student welfare and promised the college will continue to be a “beacon...

Barnoldswick workers to vote

Workers at the Rolls Royce plant in Barnoldswick, Lancashire, will vote on a new settlement that includes a five-year no compulsory redundancies guarantee, and a commitment to 10 years’ viable manufacturing at the plant. The settlement emerges from lengthy negotiations, following renewed strikes by engineers at the plant in July and August, and a subsequent vote by the rest of the plant’s workforce to take further action. Strikes in 2020 appeared to have won guarantees to protect jobs, but the dispute resumed in spring 2021 when Rolls Royce bosses announced they were reneging on commitments...

Goldsmiths fights the cuts

As it runs a ballot (closing 4 November) for industrial action over job cuts, the University and College Union (UCU) at Goldsmiths university in London is gathering wider support. An Open Letter to Frances Corner (the top manager at Goldsmiths), signed by over 3,000 alumni, academics, local community and other supporters of the UCU, including novelists, artists and so on, was covered by the Observer on 24 October. The letter highlights the fact that the cuts in Professional Services and to English and History are only the first round. Goldsmiths has a number of groundbreaking areas of...

Diary of a trackworker: Talk in my depot is varied

There is a refreshing normalcy about redundancies being offered. They are always show up around the time that bad news will make people think twice about why they are working. Talk in my depot is varied. There is a certain older age group who think that now they’ve done their time, it would be nice to leave with a little something extra; while at the younger end, demoralisation with a job that has changed dramatically, even in their relatively short experience, makes them think about a change of career. This time is slightly different in that the redundancy process has started with managerial...

Signs of movement at Royal Parks

Our outsourced worker members in Royal Parks, who have been on strike for the entirety of October, may be close to a breakthrough in their dispute. The latest communication we’ve received from their employer, the outsourced contractor Just Ask, suggests they are prepared to agree a recognition agreement. They have also abandoned their initial plans for job cuts of up to one third, although obviously we will push them to commit to no cuts at all. We are hopeful for progress on other issues, such as sick pay, too. Throughout the dispute, we have sought ways to pressure not only Just Ask but...

Goldsmiths: open the books!

Using the slogan #OpenTheBooks, Goldsmiths Student Union and UCU (University and College Union) organised a joint demonstration on Monday 11 October, as representatives of Goldsmiths management met Lloyds and NatWest to discuss the College’s loans. The banks demanded job cuts as a condition of a loan, and Goldsmiths pledged to hand over all its assets if the university defaults. It’s a terrible deal and it is one for which staff and students will pay for many years, if we don’t beat these cuts. The UCU and the student union are demanding to know just how much profit the banks are making from...

Negotiations at Barnoldswick

Negotiations between Unite union reps and bosses at the Rolls Royce plant in Barnoldswick, Lancashire, continue, following workers’ rejection of management’s latest proposal for ending the dispute against job cuts. After strikes in 2020 against job cuts and offshoring secured an agreement to retain work at the site, the dispute was sparked back into life this year after management reneged on their commitments. After a small section of the workforce launched new strikes, the rest of the workforce also voted to take industrial action. Union officers say they are cautiously optimistic about the...

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