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EXCLUSIVE: Goldsmiths have built a WALL to keep campaigners out of its new art gallery

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Goldsmiths uni has erected a wooden wall in order to stop student campaigners from demonstrating outside its new Centre for Contemporary Art Gallery.

The wall was erected between the CCA Gallery and the Ben Pimlott Building.

The first protest by the group Justice for Cleaners - Goldsmiths is scheduled for 8.30am on Thursday, 6th September.

They plan on disrupting a media showcase of the exhibition in the gallery.

A second, larger, protest, with over 200 marked as "going" on Facebook, is scheduled for 5.30pm on Friday, 7th September, on the gallery's opening night.

The campaign group is protesting the opening of the CCA Gallery, which will not display the work of students, in order to protest the outsourcing of Goldsmiths' cleaning services to ISS.

Cleaners at Goldsmiths have given harrowing testimony about their working conditions, including a recent restructuring that has cut their hours, increased their workload, and affected their performance.

One cleaner expressed concerns about the hours she was required to work, saying:

"I have a major safety issue when leaving work. I finish work at 11.30pm and get home an hour later. I’m scared to travel so late because I am a Muslim woman with a big hijab on."

A statement on the event page for Thursday's demonstration states that one of the reasons for targeting the art gallery is because the university 'hasn't been able to find the money to bring cleaning staff in house, yet have £4 million spare for the new Art Gallery (that will not be exhibiting the work of students).'

Speaking exclusively to The National Student, campaign organiser Robert Munton said:

"Goldsmiths have been aware of our protest for some time. Sarah McCrory, the director of the new gallery had attended some of our campaign meetings without introducing herself in order to get information on the protest she suspected was happening, so we just decided to go public with it as we figured Goldsmiths knew about it anyway."

While there have been constructions underway on at the site for a long time, Robert said the wall only came up "about two days ago".

"Given Goldsmiths have known for several weeks were planning this," he continued, "I reckon they decided to put up this wall around the back entrance of the gallery to keep any protesters out so they can focus security for the opening on one entrance."

Robert also alleges that Goldsmiths is planning to build a second wall, saying:

"[Goldsmiths have] also built a second wall on the road leading to the Ben Pimlott building, there is wood near another passage next to the Ben Pimlott Building suggesting they will build a third before Friday's demo."

Mika Rottenberg, the artist whose work is being exhibited, released a statement of support for the planned protest of the gallery's opening night.

She said that she hoped the demonstration would "pressure the university management to reconsider their policy regarding the outsourcing of their cleaning force to ISS, a company that from my understanding treats their employees unfairly", but also said that the "healthiest and most productive action for the promotion of this issue" was to proceed with the exhibition.

More to follow 

Featured image courtesy of Robert Munton

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