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King's College strike action ballot in row over job cuts

26 February 2010

UCU today announced that it is balloting members at King's College London for strike action in a row over job cuts. Currently 205 posts at the university are at risk and several departments have been threatened with closure.

UCU warned that unless negotiations produce a breakthrough, the ballot will open on Thursday (4 March) and close on Monday 22 March.
The union says the institution has to explain why it sees fit to axe staff and shut distinguished departments when it has cash reserves of £180m and is planning to spend tens of millions of pounds on the purchase of the East Wing of Somerset House. 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.
The news of the ballot at King's comes just 24 hours after planned industrial action was averted at the University of Leeds at the last minute. Talks between UCU and the university saw the action suspended after progress was made on compulsory redundancies and university governance. UCU members at the University of Sussex are currently being balloted over industrial action in a row over job cuts on the south coast.
Staff at King's have been supported by their students and UCU has organised a teach-in for tomorrow (Saturday 27 February). Terry Eagleton and Michael Rosen will both be speaking at the event, as will representatives from Leeds and Sussex.
UCU branch chair at King's, Jim Wolfreys, said: 'UCU members here at King's have been left with little option but to ballot for industrial action. The cuts will inflict lasting damage on King's College's academic reputation and the morale of staff, and will seriously compromise its ability to remain a world class research institution. The loss of staff will lead to an increase in workloads of those who survive the cull and inevitably impact most seriously on students.'
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'There is no logic behind these cuts whatsoever. Management has the cash resources to defend jobs and should actively be doing so. Staff are the most important resource at any institution and it is highly distasteful for the college to find the funds to purchase the East Wing of Somerset House at the same time as it looking to get rid of staff.'
Last updated: 11 December 2015