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UCU Announce Strikes at KCL in early December

KCL UCU strike

King’s College London (KCL) is one of 58 universities which will see University and College Union (UCU) members strike from December 1-3, 2021, in a move supported by a union ballot for potential strike action earlier this month.

UCU members will enact an additional policy of working strictly to contract, refusing to take on additional responsibilities outside of those terms. This policy is expected to last for the next five months, per the mandate provided by the UCU ballot.

The UCU says it called on university bosses to urgently start negotiating to avoid disruption across UK campuses over Christmas. Among complaints made by UCU are the 16% pay cut to lecturers’ salaries since 2008, the persistence of a reported 15% gender pay gap in universities, a proposed 25% slash in pensions, and a lack of adequate female representation amongst lecturers, currently at 27%, as well as Black representation, sitting at 1%.

In an email from the KCL branch of UCU on November 8, it was claimed: our HR department had still failed to pay many of your tutors their wages by November, even though teaching began in September. Previously, the KCL UCU Twitter profile (@KCL_UCU) tweeted: we are also opposed to a token one-day strike action this term, rather than concerted action as a prelude to more sustained action in the new year if management refuses to bargain.

Following a vote on the issue back in October, KCLSU members elected not to support UCU in their consideration of strike action, a historic reversal of precedent. The SU said: Whilst we are sympathetic to the cause and deeply appreciate the work of King’s academics and administrators, we believe strikes would only add to the significant damage students have had to endure with two years of national lockdowns, continued lack of in-person teaching, and most importantly loss of learning and student experience. KCLSU and King’s College London have yet to comment on the announcement of planned action in December.

KCL Students Support the Strike, a newly founded organisation, also fully support the demands of the University and College Union at King’s College London with regard to pensions and the Four Fights. Echoing this support, Larissa Kennedy, National President of the National Union of Students, has said students have a rich history of standing shoulder to shoulder with university staff, stressing that the onus for minimising disruption for students lies with university bosses.

Polling conducted by NUS found that, nationally, 73% of students supported strike action, while only 9% of students were opposed.

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