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King's College London staff to be balloted for industrial action

3 June 2014

Members of the UCU at King's College London are to be balloted for industrial action this week over plans to make up to 120 staff redundant in the institution's prestigious health schools.

Staff are in dispute with the college over plans to cut academic staff costs by 10% in the schools of Medicine, Biomedical Sciences and the Institute of Psychiatry. Academic redundancies have also been announced in the Department of Education and Professional Studies.

The ballot for industrial action will open on Friday 6 June and will close on Wednesday 25 June.

The redundancies have been planned to help fund a £400m infrastructure investment programme.

Staff have been told the rationale for the cuts is based on changes to the funding of higher education following the introduction of tuition fees and reductions in government grants for teaching and capital investment costs.

The strength of feeling over this dispute has been expressed at King's College and beyond. At UCU's Congress last week, delegates voted unanimously in favour of a motion proposing consideration of an academic boycott should the college fail to amend its plans.

The college intends to rank academics on the basis of their research grant income and teaching hours and to issue notices of dismissal by 15 August. No prior consultation has taken place with students or staff, who have been offered only the legal minimum of 45 days to contest the proposals.

UCU regional official, Barry Jones, said: 'We are concerned that the decision by King's College to make staff redundant in favour of funding investment in buildings sets a precedent for the sector.

'Investment in staff should be a priority and a recent survey of students showed us this is a greater priority for them than investment in infrastructure. King's, however, has chosen to prioritise buildings over staff.

'Of course, strike action is a last resort and we hope to get this dispute resolved before it comes to that. However, college management must take heed of how strongly our members feel about cutting jobs to fund buildings.'

Last updated: 10 December 2015