Strike at London Met amid unholy row over chaplaincy cuts

June 22, 2011

Dozens of protesters turned out to protest against job cuts at London Metropolitan University, with chaplaincy posts the latest to come under threat.

Members of Unison and the University and College Union mounted a one-day strike and protest today over job losses and redundancy terms, following London Met’s decision to cuts its course offering by 70 per cent. Courses including history, philosophy and modern languages will be closed.

Mark Campbell, chair of the UCU branch, said: “We would like to be involved much earlier on in the strategic decisions so that we can discuss and challenge the redundancy proposals.

“We accept – we don’t like it – but we accept that in the current situation that some of these discussions will end up in the curtailment of jobs.”

The unions singled out the university’s decision to make redundancies in the chaplaincy, where there is a full-time Anglican priest and Imam, claiming this could be damaging to the local community as well as to the university itself.

Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North, joined the protest, which marched down Holloway Road in London, where London Met’s main campus is located.

“London Met has taken on a large number of students who are local people who might not be able to go anywhere else, so I’m fully behind the efforts today,” he said.

Also marching was Sara Awayez, welfare officer for the students’ union at London Met. “The aim of today is to show that we are not in favour of the reforms and that we’ll do everything we can to not make them go through,” she said.

“If I didn’t believe we could make a change I wouldn’t be here.”

The unions claimed that the strike shut several libraries, IT facilities and the registry. However, a spokeswoman for London Met said that measures had been taken to minimise disruption to staff and students.

On the chaplaincy, she said she was unable to comment on individual members of staff.

The university said in a statement that it was “disappointed” by the strike. “We understand that this is a difficult period for staff at London Met but industrial action is not the answer.” Governors and senior management had maintained dialogue with the unions, the statement added.

sarah.cunnane@tsleducation.com

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