Musical staff

University of Manchester staff go on strike over UCU dispute over pay and working conditions

A citywide strike took place over a dispute with members of the University and College Union (UCU) over wages and working conditions.

Staff at four higher education institutions in Manchester have gone on strike in protest over pay and working conditions.

The Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) called the strikes “a fight for the future of higher education”.

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Staff from the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Salford and the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) are all involved in the dispute over pay and working conditions and there have been a strike yesterday and today. More releases are planned from next week.

UCU branch secretary and University of Manchester professor Dr Simeon Gill said staff “would like to see leadership – people taking responsibility for the decisions they make locally and setting targets premises that make it possible to achieve national objectives”.

Dr Gill added that while the industrial action will temporarily halt studies, it will benefit students and society in the long run.

“We cannot educate students to be competent and capable as independent researchers and learners to join or lead a workforce and then in the same situation tell them they will inherit a work environment worse than ours,” he explained.

He praised Banji Adewumi, the new Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), who he said had already responded positively to complaints, but said the management team needed to give him means any chance of significant change.

Some students expressed their support for the strike today, saying it was “sad” that industrial action was needed.

A student who wished to remain anonymous said: “Staff deserve good conditions and good pay – there should be no strikes.

What did the university say?

A University of Manchester spokesperson said: ‘It is deeply regrettable that UCU members voted to strike. We recognize the importance of compensation and terms of employment for our colleagues and we take these views very seriously.

“However, inevitably, any type of industrial action causes serious disruption for our community, and especially for our students, after such a long period of pandemic upheaval.

“The annual salary awards are negotiated nationally by UCEA and UUK respectively, so we are unable to make changes locally in Manchester.

“We continue to work hard to address other aspects of employment that came up in the ballot, such as the nature of contracts and gender and ethnic pay gaps.

“We would like to reassure our students that we will do everything we can to minimize any impact on their teaching, learning and wider experience.”

Three more days of walkouts are scheduled for Monday February 28, Tuesday March 1 and Wednesday March 2, with the final day of action set to coincide with the National Union of Students student strike.