Manchester Uni students occupy Simon Building in support of UCU strikes

‘The fight against pay inequality needs the support of every student’

A group of over 20 students from student groups including, UoM Rent Stike, Cops Off Campus and Nancy Out have occupied the Simon Building since yesterday afternoon.

They dropped banners that read, “students and staff unite against management” and “this building is occupied to support the strike”.

The occupation follows a series of similar occupations last year also in support of the UCU strikes.

Staff in the UCU trade union at the University of Manchester are currently striking over disputes involving fair pay, working conditions and pensions.

The occupiers told The Manchester Tab: “We are occupying this building in solidarity with the UCU as they take action against the appalling pay and working conditions faced by staff at UoM. The fight against pay inequality needs the recognition and support of every student.”

Occupiers echoed UCU claims that staff have faced increasing casualisation of jobs and rising workloads. They blame “the marketisation of our universities” for these conditions and argue that universities should be “institutions that promote discovery and opportunity” rather than a “breeding ground for insecurity, exploitation and executive greed”.

A spokesperson for the University of Manchester said: “We are aware of some individuals gaining unauthorised access to a University-owned building. We continue to monitor the situation and to ensure disruption is minimised.”

“At the University, we absolutely recognise how important pay and employment conditions are to colleagues and we take those views very seriously. However, inevitably any kind of industrial action causes serious disruption for all our community, particularly our students.

“As we always have, we will continue to have an open, honest and transparent dialogue with trade unions and their representatives where possible. But again we repeat that annual pay awards are negotiated nationally by UCEA and UUK respectively, so we are unable to make any changes at a local, Manchester level.

“We continue to work hard to address other aspects of employment which were raised in the ballot such as the nature of contracts and gender and ethnicity pay gaps. We’d like to reassure our students that we will do everything we can to minimise any impact on their teaching, learning and wider experience.”

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