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Higher Education Crisis

KING’S COLLEGE LONDON STRIKE ON THURSDAY 6th MAY

UCU is seeking a halt to the redundancy process underway at King’s which has seen 164 jobs put at risk.

A major feature of the strike held by UCU members at King’s on 30 March was the solidarity shown by other universities and colleges, and by local workplaces. On Wednesday 5 May higher, further and adult education institutions across London will be on strike. King’s will also be out on strike on Thursday 6 May.

Staff and students at King’s are holding a public meeting to discuss how we can build the resistance underway against education cuts.

King’s blog site: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/unions/ucu

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STAFF AND STUDENTS RECLAIM KING’S COLLEGE LONDON

Last Tuesday’s (30 March) strike in defence of education at King’s exceeded all expectations. More than 250 people joined loud and vibrant picket lines on all four King’s campuses. Security guards at one campus indicated that numbers entering their building were as much as 75% down. At the main building on the Strand only a small trickle of students and staff went in.

Support for the strike was boosted after the latest hapless intervention by senior management, who refused to allow non-UCU staff to take annual leave yesterday. This prompted more than sixty of those obliged to work on the Strand to sign a card expressing solidarity with the pickets. Members of other unions on all sites brought refreshments out to colleagues on strike and stood with them during breaks. Local cafes displayed UCU material explaining our reasons for striking. Students brought cakes for pickets, played musical instruments, set up stalls and hung a huge banner over the entrance to the Strand: ‘Education massacre: do not enter.’

Messages of support have flooded in from King’s alumni, students and non-UCU staff, as well as from universities and colleges across the country. Colleagues brought solidarity greetings and donations in person from UCL, Westminster, QMW, London Metropolitan University, the Institute of Education, Southwark College, City and Islington College, Tower Hamlets College, the University of the Arts and the London Nautical School. Supporters also came along from local workplaces, including the National Theatre and the National Gallery, and from other unions, including the NUT, PCS, Unite and Unison.

Around 50 people attended a lunchtime rally at Waterloo, while more than 200 students joined pickets for a rally on the Strand, which took place in an electric atmosphere. The huge crowd heard speeches from UCU representatives at King’s and elsewhere, from members of other unions and from a Sussex student who told of their struggles with their own management. Many students heard for the first time of the appalling treatment of our colleagues in Engineering by King’s management. The ‘We Support our Teachers’ campaign was a lively presence throughout the day. Dozens of students expressed their disdain at the way the College’s senior management addresses them in Orwellian ‘Newspeak’. Many have written to the Principal and Vice-Principal complaining that they feel patronised by senior management.

Our campaign in defence of education at King’s is partly about our colleagues’ livelihoods, and about the lack of regard shown to them by senior management. But it is clear that it is also about much more than this. The creeping culture of managerialism in universities is also an issue. The support we have received from students, and from colleagues who are either members of other unions, or not yet members of UCU, is an indication that this campaign is also about defending the values that underpin education at King’s and elsewhere, which include collegiality, respect for individuals, cooperation, intellectual integrity and academic independence.

The verve, humour, creativity and imagination of yesterday’s pickets offered us all a glimpse of the potential that exists within this institution for staff and students to make education at King’s more rewarding and more enjoyable. All too often this potential is either stifled or by-passed by the dead hand of senior management.

Our thanks and congratulations go to all who took part yesterday, and to everyone who showed their support for our campaign. Senior management teams across the country are offering no resistance to government cuts. They are determined to follow the example set by King’s and impose redundancies and department closures on their staff and students. The magnificent collective response to these attacks that we have seen at Leeds, Sussex, Kent and King’s is a powerful reminder to all that if we stand together we can defend our education system from the ministers and managers who want to turn it into a marketplace.

Jim Wolfreys

President KCL UCU

Please continue to send donations and messages of support to: ucu@kcl.ac.uk

For more information on our dispute see: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ucu

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KING’S COLLEGE LONDON, TUESDAY 30 MARCH: CELEBRATE RESISTANCE TO EDUCATION CUTS!

Tuesday 30 March will see the first ever local strike against management by UCU members at King’s College London. We have voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action against a £27m cuts programme that has put 205 jobs at risk of redundancy, with more to follow. 

* Whole departments are set to close – Engineering, Dental Mictobiology, American Studies, Equality and Diversity – with other areas also under threat – Palaeography, Logic, Linguistics, the Institute of Psychiatry, Biomedical and Health Sciences.

* All this in a College where 202 staff earn over £100k a year, with a combined salary bill of £29m, and where a £100k salary cap would save £9m a year.

* Management have by-passed the proper channels of consultation to impose redundancies. Most staff learned that the country’s oldest Engineering department was to close via the College’s website, before any formal consultation had taken place.

All this helps explain why King’s staff returned the highest proportion of votes in our union’s history (85%) for some form of industrial action. But this fight is not about King’s alone. If our management’s redundancies are not stopped, it will give confidence to every management team in higher, further and adult education, who believe that the top-down management model in place at King’s can impose cuts on everyone, everywhere. More seriously, it will convince any future government that education is a soft target as they try to recoup the billions spent on the banking sector.
 
Speaking at King’s four days before the strike Tony Benn told students and staff that, ‘What you’re doing is educating College management in the importance of education.’ At a time when Peter Mandelson is attempting to prevent young people from going to university, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is contemplating cuts that will be ‘worse than Thatcher’, we also need to educate the present government, and its successor, about the importance of education. So our fight is also your fight.
 
We are calling on everyone to join us on our picket lines (7am to 5pm) on Tuesday 30 March. We want our strike to be a lively celebration of resistance to cuts and a demonstration of our resolve to defend our colleagues’ jobs and our students’ education.
 
Join our rallies on Tuesday, open to everyone:
 
Tues 30 March 1pm KCL Strand and Waterloo site entrances
http://www.kcl.ac.uk/about/campuses/strand.html
http://www.kcl.ac.uk/about/campuses/waterloo.html

Tues 30 March 6pm London School of Economics, U8, Tower One, Ground Floor http://www2.lse.ac.uk/mapsAndDirections/findingYourWayAroundLSE.aspx
 
Please send donations and messages of support to: ucu@kcl.ac.uk
 
For more information on our dispute see http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ucu
 
In solidarity,
 
Jim Wolfreys, President KCL UCU 

Justine Stephens, Head of Campaigns, UCU, Carlow Street, London, NW1 7LH

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SOLIDARITY WITH THE KCL STRIKE

Lecturers at King’s College London have voted to take strike action this Tuesday – in a ballot that broke the record set at Sussex two weeks ago, which in turn had broken the record set last month in Leeds.  There is a report from the KCL dispute on the Guardian website.  It ends by asking readers “If jobs must go, how should it be done?” – but recent battles at Leeds and Kent put us in a good position to respond: No ifs, no buts, no education cuts!

Now that King’s is in the eye of the storm, solidarity from across the sector is crucial.  Nearly 1000 staff and students came together to march on London this Saturday against education cuts, and now we need to throw that same unity behind the KCL dispute.  Use the attached collection sheet to get donations in your college or workplace, and send photos of yourself holding up the placard to educationactivist@googlemail.com

Click here to download placard

Click here to download collection sheet

Other reports

This Saturday up to 1000 students and education workers demonstrated against the cuts http://wp.me/sPFyW-128

A united staff and student campaign has defeated compulsory redundancies in Uni of Kent http://wp.me/pPFyW-1T

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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MySpace Profile: http://www.myspace.com/glennrikowski