Students back staff strike action at King's

30 March 2010

Members of UCU at King's College London yesterday received a welcome boost from their students who have written to the College's principal, Rick Trainor, outlining reasons why they support the union's strike action today.

Responding to a missive from senior management the students have accused the institution of failing to treat them as 'educated members of an academic community.'
UCU members at King's say they have been left with no option but to strike tomorrow in response to the university's refusal to remove the threat of compulsory redundancies. There are 205 posts at risk and more expected to follow. The union says King's has to explain why it sees fit to axe staff and shut distinguished departments when it has cash reserves of £180m and has opened a £20m fund to cover the running costs of the East Wing of Somerset House.
The letter from students in the 'We support our teachers' campaign says the university's communication with students has been dishonest and patronising. The students make it quite clear that they are unhappy with the restructuring plans and job losses. They write 'we have repeatedly expressed concern about how teaching staff redundancies will inevitably have an adverse effect on the quality of our education.'
The students go on to say that 'we are not convinced that the installation of a standard audio-visual specification in all classrooms and wireless access on all campuses will enhance our learning experience if there will not be enough teachers to teach in these classrooms.' Before concluding by saying that they support UCU's decision to strike:
'We fully support UCU's decision to strike and believe that, unfortunate as it is, their decision seems the only option of defending world-class education at King's at present. It is unfortunate in the sense that the university broke off talks four weeks ago when it could have been trying to resolve the dispute with UCU. Thus we congratulate members of UCU for their decision to strike and invite students to join.'
The Engineering department is to be closed after 170 years at King's, the Equalities and Diversity department has been scrapped and there are threats to Philosophy, Information Resources, American Studies and the only Chair of Palaeography in the UK.
UCU King's representative, Jim Wolfreys, said: 'It is really encouraging that out students are so supportive of our action and the reasons behind it. We do not have the resources or access to students that the university does so we are delighted that they have not been fooled by the rhetoric from senior management.
'The bottom line is that cuts will have a huge impact on the quality of education King's can offer. We intend to defend our colleagues' livelihoods and the education of our students.'
The union has also written to Rick Trainor asking that the college treats the students with the same levels of respect that the staff afford them. 'If we are to retain the respect of our students, we need to remember that this is a university, and that we are dealing with a student body that has a sophisticated understanding of the situation in which the College finds itself. It reflects badly on all staff if those in senior management positions make public declarations that are poorly argued or inaccurate.'


King's College contact Jim Wolfreys m 07787 570 328 e
National UCU enquiries Dan Ashley t 020 7756 2600 m 07789 518 992 e

Last updated: 11 December 2015