26 June 2014
From UCU: Staff at King’s College London have overwhelmingly backed industrial action in a dispute over job losses.
Eighty-one per cent of UCU members who voted backed strike action and 89% supported action short of a strike. The local branch is due to meet on Tuesday (1 July) to discuss the next steps.
The dispute centres on plans to cut academic staff costs by 10% in the School of Medicine, School of Biomedical Sciences and the Institute of Psychiatry. Academic redundancies have also been announced in the Department of Education and Department of Professional Studies. King’s is currently planning a £400m infrastructure investment programme.
The ballot result comes as eminent Professor of Psychiatry, Sir Robin Murray, warned King’s that the loss of 120 jobs would damage the institution’s reputation.
In his article, Sir Robin criticised King’s College’s financial judgement and said other universities were not axing staff, despite financial pressures. He also argued that cutting staff to save money would be counterproductive as King’s would end up with fewer staff capable of generating research income.
UCU regional official, Barry Jones, said: “Staff at King’s have made it absolutely clear what they think of the plans to axe jobs to fund building projects. Sacking over 100 staff will do absolutely nothing for King’s College’s academic reputation.
“While strike action is always a last resort, King’s College’s cynical attempts to finalise these redundancies during the summer break left members with no option but to ballot for action now. We shall be meeting early next week to decide our next steps. Our door remains open to college managers to try and resolve this without disruption.”
King’s 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.