Rally unites four Manchester universities on last day of strikes
The protest marked the end of three days of strike action
On the last day of strike actions, staff and students from across four Manchester universities united for a march down Oxford road culminating in a rally at All Saints Park.
Striking staff from the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, the Royal Northern College of Music and the University of Salford joined together alongside supportive students.
After the march staff and students from across the universities spoke to the crowd. UCU negotiator, Lucy Burke said: “The future of higher education relies on a system that values staff and that values students.”
Anti-Casualisation officer, Morgan Rhys Powell, added: “Strikes are the only days I see hope for the future”.
UoM student, Ben McGowan told the crowd: “University managements tried to pit students and staff against each other because without us they’re nothing but a bunch of wannabe CEO’s and ex-CEO’s.
“The heart and soul of our universities isn’t fat cat Vice Chancellors it’s ordinary students and ordinary staff.”
University staff have been striking as part of a nationwide strike at 58 universities over pay and working condition disputes.
Whilst the strikes have now ended, staff have also voted to carry out ‘Action short of strike’, this means staff will not work beyond their contractual obligations such as working outside of the hours they are supposed to work.
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.”
A Manchester Metropolitan University spokesman said: “We are disappointed by the UCU’s decision to ask its members to strike for three days in December. After a successful start to the academic year back on campus, our aim has been to minimise any disruption to students’ teaching and learning and to reassure them that any strike action will have no impact to their academic outcomes.
“This dispute is about pay, casualisation, workloads and equality. While the majority of our 2,200 academic staff are not UCU members, we have been working for some time to address the concerns the UCU has raised nationally. We continue to have constructive discussions with both the UCU and our wider academic staff about our proposals to focus workloads on teaching and research and our ongoing project to bring associate lecturers onto more secure employment contracts.”
RNCM and Salford have been contacted