The University of Manchester Students’ Union Exec Officers have called for “all sides to get round the negotiating table” after the Universities and College Union (UCU) announced last week its intention to ballot on industrial action in 147 universities across the UK next term.
The vote will allow members to decide whether to go on strike again, following last term’s pensions dispute.
The joint statement from all eight Exec Officers cited the past year’s strike action as “difficult” and hoped “retaining continuous dialogue… can avoid action which detrimentally impacts our students”.
The Exec team also did mention however that they “fundamentally believe that well rewarded and motivated staff are they key ingredient of a great education”.
Pay issues are the main reason cited for the ballot. This includes problems such as the gender pay gap, a lack of pay rises over the last four years, and pay disparity between top figures at universities and their staff.
Many UCU branches appear to be in support of a ‘YES’ vote on the upcoming ballot. On Twitter, Bristol UCU linked the possible upcoming strike to the one that dominated the last semester at many HE institutions, writing: “Despite the public exposure of HE casualization, the current militancy of HE staff, the gains made in The Great University Strike, university leaders do not acknowledge that casualization is a serious issue and is detrimental to their institutions”.
University College London UCU also made this connection, tweeting: “Reasons to vote for strike action from 30/08: 1. Overworked and stressed-out workforce, 2. The top handing themselves 41% pay rises in period our pay saw real term cuts of 14%, 3. Increments are not pay rises, 4. Tried to steal our pensions, 5. The sector is in surplus, 6. They think we won’t.”
Becca Windsor De Taboada, a second-year Law with Politics student, voiced concern over the possibility of further strikes, telling The Mancunion: “Honestly, this is getting ridiculous…I understand the benefits of strike action and the necessity for decent wages but striking for two years in a row would be utterly detrimental to students that these educational institutions are ultimately for”.
The ballot opens on August 30th and closes on 19th October.
The University of Manchester declined to comment until the ballot closes.