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1st December 2021

“It’s insane”: Speaking to UCU strikers on the frontline

On the picket line: lecturers on why they are striking
“It’s insane”: Speaking to UCU strikers on the frontline
Photo: Jess Walmsley @ The Mancunion

Three days of strike action for the UCU started today, with strikes taking place across the country. The strike action will take place from the 1-3rd of December and looks to address the issues raised by the UCU on pay and working conditions for university staff.

Students have shown support for the strikes, with a group of students occupying the Sam Alex building in solidarity with the university staff on strike, stating that “their fight is also ours”.

The Mancunion spoke to the UCU strikers at the University of Manchester taking part about what was happening and why.

Professor Roybal Gailius, a Professor of Geochemistry explained why this strike is so important: “The main thing is to support my colleagues who have gotten a raw deal with respect to pay and conditions. And I think we need to stand in solidarity with and make sure that we fix the problem with falling pay for lecturers.”

He believes students awareness of their lecturer’s working conditions is “quite mixed”, but from the Students’ Union “there’s very, very strong support, 75% of the students are supportive.” Part of their aim on the picket line today “is educating people by giving away leafets, there’s been a 20% cut in real wages for us over the last decade. It’s insane.”

Another anonymous UoM staff member said, “The way that academia is being paid at the moment, on casualisation, things like marking, undermines career structure for academics and that really is worrying for the whole of society because you are not getting people to be trained in the same way as educators, it’s not good for the next generation of students.”

Jeff, a Technical Operations Manager, called out to students to “be nice to people who are striking, understand that it’s not something they’ve chosen to do, but rather forced into.”

To support the strike he suggests to “write messages to the university expressing their concern about how they’re not getting their value for money and then start to be refunded on the amount of tuition they’re missing.”

Student Labour Women’s officer, Ellen Clements, showed solidarity with the striking lecturers: “The lecturers have done so much for us and if they’re working in bad conditions then it’s going to be reflected on the teaching we receive. The lecturers deserve respect for what they do. They’re not getting paid enough. They’re doing too much work for what they are getting paid. They have insecure pensions, insecure jobs, some of the worst zero-hour contacts, it’s just not right that an institution like this, that’s so well respected and has so much money is treating its staff so badly.”

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