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Goldsmiths strikes: Union warns of ‘unprecedented unrest’ as academics vote to strike over job losses

Goldsmiths University (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Goldsmiths University (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Academics at Goldsmiths University warned of “unprecedented industrial unrest” as they voted to strike over planned cuts to 130 jobs on Thursday.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) voted 87 per cent in favour of a strike over the job losses, which it says will affect one in six academic staff at the institution.

Turnout for the ballot was 69 per cent.

The industrial action comes after university management began a consultation on plans to reduce its staff team by 91.5 full-time equivalent posts, with 130 jobs impacted in total.

The UCU said the “extraordinary” cuts would almost halve the number of academics in the schools of arts and humanities, culture and society, and science and technology.

However, Goldsmiths’ Vice Chancellor, Frances Corner, earlier defended the plans as being necessary because of a Higher Education “funding model that is widely acknowledged to be unfit for purpose.”

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said the cuts were “almost incomprehensible” and that striking staff were not only fighting for their jobs but for the future of the institution.

“If management succeeds in steamrolling these devastating cuts through, Goldsmiths will be unrecognisable from the great creative powerhouse it currently is,” she said.

“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.”

However, 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.”