Puppies and picket lines: The first day of Manchester Uni’s strikes, in pictures

‘We’re really sorry for any disruption but we’re doing it for you, we’re doing it for education’

At 8am this morning in the pouring and freezing Manchester weather, UCU staff began their first day of strike action.

Joined by students showing solidarity, including some of those who occupied the Samuel Alexander building last night, picket lines were held at almost every major uni building.

Despite the grey weather, around 100 students and staff congregated at the main university archway at 10:30, chanting and waving red flags before heading off for a day of organised ‘teach-outs’.

It was of course the puppies on the picket lines who took the limelight and kept morale high including this good boy named Bowen.

Bowen the puppy joined the picket lines

University of Manchester UCU branch President, David Swanson told The Manchester Tab: “We love the Manchester students, the solidarity we’ve had from them has been immense.

“They’ve kept us going and we’re really sorry for any disruption but we’re doing it for you, we’re doing it for education and we hope you can come stand with us on the picket lines.”

Students joined staff at picket lines including at University Place

One supportive student told us: “We understand exactly what staff are going through, their issues stem from the same senior management who’ve made life so difficult for students over the past years.

“This is a senior management which has no regard for student mental health when it really matters but now is claiming it cares so much because of the strikes.

“Ordinary staff have got us through these tough times and have always shown us support it’s only right we do the same.”

Staff and students gathered at the uni archway

David Swanson explained that staff were striking because staff were underpaid and overworked.”Higher education at the moment is an absolute mess, the pressures that have been put on staff have just been increased and increased especially through the pandemic.

“So many more than half of our staff are on insecure contracts, we have pay gaps for BME and women staff, and the university recognises they’ve failed to do anything about it but we’re still not getting anything concrete about what they’re gonna do.”

A University of Manchester spokesperson said: “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.”

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