Starting today and continuing over the next three weeks, further UCU strikes will take place, with staff working at 68 universities in the UK striking on the Four Fights issue. At UoM, strike action will take place on 21, 22, and 28 February, and 1 and 2 March 2022.
Due to Storm Franklin, this morning’s pickets were cancelled however staff hope to be there tomorrow morning and have encouraged students to join them on the picket lines.
Over 50,000 staff across the country are expected to take part in the strikes according to Manchester World, and the UCU has announced that more than a million students may be impacted. Those who take part will be fighting for better and fairer pay and working conditions, and are demanding a £2,500 pay increase for all staff members, an end to “pay injustice” and zero-hours contracts, and action to tackle “unmanageable workloads”.
Picket lines were set up at institutions across the city in December as part of the movement of national action on pay and working conditions. However, according to the UCU, certain conditions have not been met, and several remaining issues should be addressed:
The 20% real term pay cut over the past twelve years
Unmanageable workloads faced by current university staff
Pay inequality in universities
Over-use of insecure contracts
Indeed, despite an increase of 9% in enrolment this year, many university staff are facing difficult working conditions, including 90,000 academic and professional support staff employed on insecure contracts according to the union.
The strikes could be cancelled last minute next week if an agreement between all the parties is found.
However, it is more likely that the opposite could happen as the UCU has made universities’ bosses aware that strikes could eventually be extended. The union has explained that if universities’ bosses go ahead with their decisions to deduct 100% of the pay of those staff who take action short of a strike (ASOS), strikes would then be extended for another few days. Manchester Metropolitan University’s boss for instance has threatened to withdraw 100% of pay for their staff taking part in ASOS.
As UCU general secretary Jo Grady stated, “rogue university bosses are trying to intimidate staff from taking lawful industrial action by withholding their wages. This is a deeply unfair and unprofessional response from management which will only escalate and prolong these disputes.”
When recently asked on the strikes a UoM spokesperson said:
‘We absolutely understand how important pay and working conditions, and indeed pensions, are to colleagues and we take these views and concerns very seriously.
We also recognise the right of colleagues to take this action but continue to be extremely concerned about the impact on our whole community, particularly on our students who have suffered so much over the past 22 months.
In particular, 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 and will of course keep colleagues fully informed of any developments.’