Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Students occupy Goldsmiths in support of staff strike

Students at Goldsmiths are occupying the Deptford Town Hall building on New Cross Road. In a statement issued last night they say:

'Tonight over 100 of us are occupying the offices of Goldsmiths University management, in solidarity with our lecturers and university staff who have been forced into striking for the second time on 3rd December over a 13% pay decrease in the past four years.

Our objective is simple: to escalate. UCEA, the negotiating body for universities, refuse to re-enter negotiations, citing lack of money. This simply isn't true, there is a 2 billion pound surplus in the sector. We'd suggest that if managers are looking for savings, they should start by looking at their own salaries. The university sector has the biggest pay disparity of all public sectors, with the gender pay gap widening with every new government policy of marketisation.

We also send our solidarity to other occupations around the country, and encourage other campuses to join in. We're aiming for Deptford Town hall to remain closed on strike day tomorrow and we encourage everyone to join and support the picket lines around campus. There will be a meeting at 8am inside the occupation, all students and staff are welcome!'

There is a D3 Occupation facebook page here.

The occupation comes as staff at Goldsmiths and other universities take national strike action over pay. Goldsmiths UCU (University and College Union) say:

'On Tuesday 3rd December lecturers and support staff at Goldsmiths will be taking strike action for the second time this year and we would like to make clear our reasons for this. For the fifth successive year UCEA, the employers organisation, have made an offer to increase pay by 1%, well below the current rate of inflation. In effect both lecturers and support staff have seen their incomes fall by 13% since 2008.

Over the same period, student fees have been increased to £9,000 a year for home students and upwards of £11,000 for international students. Thanks to successful recruitment and the acknowledged high quality of degree courses at Goldsmiths the University has managed to maintain a healthy operating surplus, some of which has been invested in improving the state of the teaching accommodation. Sadly this has not been extended to investing in the majority of the staff all of whom make a substantial contribution to the success of Goldsmiths.

While salaries of lecturers and support staff have declined in real terms, the same cannot be said of the Warden who has recently been awarded a 9% pay rise and benefits from a pension contribution far in excess of the annual salary of most support staff. We would like to congratulate him on his success in helping secure the place of Goldsmiths in a global marketplace but would remind him of the contribution to this of everyone who works here. A few crumbs from the top table wouldn't go amiss'.

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