Academic staff on campus today voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action in reaction to the announcement made by the University to make 171 staff redundant in May this year.
The University announced the redundancies as students were busy revising for and taking exams at the end of the academic year, and today’s strike ballot is the first move by UCU since the end of the summer.
Standing in the quadrant off of Oxford Road, below the offices guarded by several Estates security staff in which the Board of Governors were meeting, alongside lecturers and professors from across schools on campus, the results of the ballot were announced by the UCU Committee and welcomed by those present.
The concerned members then utilised the PA system they had brought to amplify the result to blast and sing along to a rendition of Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ with the lyrics altered in an effort to lampoon Vice-Chancellor Nancy Rothwell, and ridicule the priorities of a university that returned a surplus of over £59 million in 2015-16.
As the song was played a second time, a senior professor turned to me and explained how the collegiate ethos of the University has evaporated in recent years and how morale has been rock bottom in recent months – indicating at what cost the drive to be a ‘world-leading institution’ has had on those that really make this institution a success.
One of the first things I witnessed on campus at the start of my academic journey was redundancy-threatened IT staff from the University, represented by UNISON and UCU, assembling outside the Alan Gilbert commons to discuss the short-sighted actions of the senior management at this University, and here I am nearing the end of it witnessing a different set of staff with their backs against the wall as the University once more feathers its nest.
The decisions made will indeed throw 171 families into chaos and they will probably be forced to move out of this great city in search for work elsewhere.
Industrial action in the coming weeks will just be one part of a fight back against these proposed redundancies. Students will stand in solidarity on the picket lines with staff against the arrogance of the decisions made by The University of Manchester’s senior management.
The dice has not even been rolled on Brexit yet, and the level of construction and cranes in the sky around campus as well as the record amount of international students enrolled say differently about the health of this University’s finances and therefore the necessity of these proposed redundancies.