Industrial action: Goldsmiths’ institutional position

These are national disputes with significant local impact at Goldsmiths for students, staff and the institution itself.

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Pensions and pay

On pensions and pay, the university’s position is made clear by our current financial situation.

Goldsmiths is currently in deficit, with this financial loss meaning we cannot afford to meet the union’s demands over pensions and pay.

The university’s management team believe that current arrangements for pensions and pay, which are set at a national level and are not set by Goldsmiths, are appropriate.

This is because existing arrangements for pensions and pay achieve the right balance between affordability for Goldsmiths, rewarding our current staff and ensuring levels of pay and pensions remain sustainable for future employees of Goldsmiths.

Working conditions

On working conditions, we are determined to provide the best possible experience for our staff and in turn ensure that our students receive the best teaching, learning opportunities and care.

Addressing casualisation of staff is key to this and this is why we have undertaken a joint review with UCU of the Assimilation Agreement for hourly paid lecturers. The review is due to report back shortly on key recommendations. At Goldsmiths we do not use zero-hour contracts and we will build on this by working with unions and colleagues to explore ways of providing employees with the job security they need.

Facts about pensions at Goldsmiths

  • Goldsmiths contributed £8.4million to the USS pension last year
  • Our annual contribution will rise to over £9.5 million as a result of the recent changes to the scheme
  • Goldsmiths agreed to increase contributions to the USS pension by £1.4million following the last industrial action in 2018
  • USS retirement benefits – which will not change – are worth nearly three times the national average of equivalent private sector schemes

Facts about pay at Goldsmiths

  • The median average full-time salary for Goldsmiths staff is £46,000.
  • The average pay-rise last year was £920, with lower-paid staff receiving more
  • In addition to the above pay-rise, all staff apart from SMT and Directors were last year awarded a £469 rise in London Weighting, which is intended to help manage the cost of living and working in the capital
  • Pay for staff at Goldsmiths, including rises in pay, is set on a national level and is not set by the university
  • Goldsmiths has also committed to paying at least the London Living Wage since 2011

Facts about working conditions at Goldsmiths

  • Staff get up to 35 days’ leave every year, plus Bank Holidays
  • At 3.7% our gender pay gap is among the lowest in the university sector and we are committed to bringing this to zero
  • We have no employees on zero-hours contracts
  • Some 9.7% of our academic staff are on Associate Lecturer contracts – in line with sector averages. The hourly paid Graduate Trainee Tutor role provides a valuable opportunity for our PhD students to gain professional experience.
  • All staff have the opportunity to take part in an extensive programme of wellbeing activities, access a staff assistance programme, staff discounts and onsite facilities and undertake internal or externally facilitated training

General principles

The university’s senior management team respect the rights of our staff to withdraw their labour in this way and understand that the decision to do so is never taken lightly, with colleagues understandably reluctant to disrupt the teaching and learning experiences of our students.

For everyone’s sake, the management team urge UCU to respond positively to requests to restart national negotiations with a view to preventing the action going ahead.