Manchester Uni students occupy Sam Alex building in solidarity with UCU Strikes

The occupation coincides with strikes which begin today

Last night a group of students began an occupation of the Samuel Alexander Building at the University of Manchester’s Oxford Road campus.

Occupiers say they’ve taken over the building to show solidarity with striking staff and protest the university’s treatment of staff.

The front of the building has been covered in banners that read, “This building is occupied! Support the strikes”, “Student’s Republic of Fallowfield” and “Nancy shafts students and staff”.

UCU strikes are due to start today and last until Friday the 3rd of December.

Student activist groups including Nancy Out and UoM Rent Strike are believed to have organised the occupations and have issued statements of solidarity on social media.

The university’s UCU branch said in a tweet: “Love and solidarity to our wonderful students! Their solidarity and willingness to take risks in support of us means the world.”

The action comes after a Manchester Tab poll showed that 89 per cent of students blame “uni management” not “staff” for the strikes taking place this week.

Staff at 58 universities across the country are striking over pay and working condition disputes.

A spokesperson for the occupation said: “Ensuring staff are equally represented, fairly paid and respected regardless of their role is paramount to the quality of education and the level of support available to students.”

A University of Manchester spokesperson said: “A small number of students occupied one of our buildings overnight but are currently not in the building. The building is operating as usual and any teaching room changes will be communicated directly to staff and students.

“We recognise the right of staff colleagues to take strike action, but are extremely concerned about the impact on our whole community, particularly on our students who have suffered so much over the past 20 months. We are doing everything we can to minimise any impact on their teaching, learning and wider experience.

“The industrial action at our University is in respect of pay and employment conditions, where the UCU vote just exceeded the legal 50% threshold for action (50.4%). In total, 728 staff voted in favour of such action. We have more than 12,500 staff across our University. Pay and pensions are negotiated nationally by UCEA and UUK respectively, so we are unable to make any changes at a local, Manchester level.

“We are discussing with our Students’ Union how any strike pay which is withheld can be used to benefit our students.”

Related stories recommended by this writer:

• 89 per cent of students blame ‘uni management’ not ‘staff’ for upcoming strikes

• Staff explain why you should support the planned strikes

• Don’t blame your lecturers for striking. Blame uni management for giving them no choice