Thank you to every student who attended our members' meeting on Friday 22 October. After an informative and balanced discussion, KCLSU members had the opportunity to vote for or against the motion ’Should KCLSU support the UCU strikes?’ Polling closed at 5pm on Sunday 24 October, the votes are in and we can reveal that KCLSU will not support potential strike action.
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 already had to endure with two years of national lockdowns, continued lack of in-person teaching, and most importantly loss of learing and student experience.
Students are at the heart of all our efforts, as we work to ensure that every student has an opportunity to thrive. It was a tough decision.
KCLSU President Zahra Syed has personally experienced the disruption of strikes twice, and every member of the Officer Team personally knows the real impact of strikes. The prospect of students in their third year possibly completing their degree without a single year free from disruption is unimaginable. We can’t stress enough that constructive discussion at a national level is what is really needed to end this dispute. We understand that strength of feeling among staff, however, strikes will only serve to be even more damaging for students at King’s and beyond.
As background, UCU members have until 4th November to vote on whether to not to go on strike. UCU are in dispute with universities pensions and pay, specifically, because of four key points: casualisation, pay, pensions, and working conditions. We firmly believe that all staff should receive a fair and secure pension and decent working conditions. Everyone deserves the right to a prosperous retirement, and this should be defended for everyone in our and other university communities.
Professor Evelyn Welch, King’s SVP Service, People, and Planning, and Professor Ewan McGaughey, together with colleague John Narayan from KCL-UCU all attended the meeting to explain their respective positions. A summary of the positions from UCU and KCL is available online.
Historically KCLSU has fully supported strike action, most recently in 2018. It was the right thing to do at the time. But now students at King’s have made their voices heard, asking for stability and a return to full in-person teaching.
We recognize that not everyone will agree with our decision. In fact, we want to hear from those who do have opposing views, so that we can make your voices even louder.
We now await the result of the UCU ballot, after it closes on 4th November. If UCU members do call for a strike, it is likely to take place in late November and could last for several weeks. We will respect the outcome of the UCU ballot, whatever the outcome, the democratic mandate UCU have to strike and the rights of staff to withdraw their labour. In the same vein, we ask that KCL-UCU and their colleagues respect our decision not to support their strike action.
We will also lobby the university to use salary savings to create a fund to provide financial compensation for students’ lost learning, should a strike take place. We will of course keep open, giving every student a place to study, and we will pressure the university and UCU to help end any strike that takes place. We will keep you updated when we have more news.
If you want to get in touch with us, please email us at [email protected].