King’s College London staff balloted for strike action

Staff at King’s College London have been balloted for strike action for the first time in the university’s history in a dispute over possible job losses.

The University and College Union (UCU) said 205 posts at the college were at risk, while several departments have been threatened with closure.

The union claims that the management has cash reserves of about £180m and therefore should “defend” staff jobs, reports the BBC.

The college said it was “extremely disappointed” by the ballot, which will close on 22 March, adding a strike could have an impact on exams.

Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, said there was “no logic” behind the proposed cuts.

“Management has the cash resources to defend jobs and should actively be doing so,” she said. “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 is looking to get rid of staff.”

A King’s College spokesman said the college had formally reiterated a desire to respond to the concerns raised by the UCU and to continue discussions when the two sides met on 22 February.

“The college believes a ballot on industrial action before these discussions have concluded is ill advised,” he said.

“There is particular concern that industrial action will impact on exams and that our students, who have worked so hard towards these, will suffer as a result.”

The college’s equalities and diversity department has been scrapped and the union said the 170-year-old engineering department is set to close. The philosophy, information resources and American studies departments and the chair of palaeography are also under threat.

The UCU has warned that more than 15,000 university jobs could be shed over the next few years as a result of the government’s announcement that university budgets will be reduced by £449m for 2010-11, equivalent to a 5% reduction.

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