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7th February 2023

UCU members join thousands on “Walk Out Wednesday”

The UCU started off their 18 days of industrial action over February and March with a strike coordinated across many unions, including the RMT and the NEU
UCU members join thousands on “Walk Out Wednesday”
Protesters at the UCU strikes on February 1 Photo: Jess Walmsley @ The Mancunion

UCU members at the University of Manchester joined thousands of striking workers in St Peter’s Square on February 1, following a morning of picketing around campus.

The was the first of 18 days of strike action after, in the words of UCU members, an “insulting” and “humiliating 3% pay offer”.

Strikers sported signs reading “on strike to win back my pension”. One member stated the need for the University to provide a more generous pension scheme than the decreased package enforced by university employers last year.

Talking to The Mancunion, a lecturer in the School of Social Sciences stated they could “no longer recommend” employment in higher education after “decades of decline” in the sector. Many UCU members seemed hopeful for productive discussion with the University, meaning fewer strike days this term.

The mood shifted to a larger focus on the government’s new anti-striking legislation, as members joined the wider protest in the city centre.

Alongside teachers from the NEU, rail workers from the RMT, and civil servants from the PCS, UCU members protested the legislation which will enforce minimum service levels for key industries on strike days, in a joint strike named “Walk out Wednesday” on social media.

Due to go through the House of Lords next, critics of the legislation argue that it will effectively prohibit the right to strike. This was met by chants of, “Tory, Tory, Tory… Out, Out, Out” and speeches by many union leaders.

Lucy Burke, Vice Chair of Manchester Met UCU, stated that the government would rather “attack the right to strike than stop people going cold and hungry”.

Holding banners that read “Student Nurses Support the Strikes” and banners made by the Socialist Workers Party, members of the University’s student body marched with the UCU from Whitworth Hall to St Peter’s Square. This enthusiasm was matched by many members of the UCU who called on student support.

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