UCU union lecturers at Manchester University started 14 days of strikes last week picketing in heavy rain so I joined them with other trade unionists and students in solidarity. People who don’t work in universities tend to think that academics are well paid, work in lovely buildings and get paid to read books and think. But the reality for most of them is long hours, heavy workloads, poor pay and insecure contracts ─ familiar conditions to many public sector workers.
I met some academics from the Spanish state who teach degrees in Spanish. They are paid just £20,000 a year and wouldn’t qualify to come to Britain under Boris Johnson’s racist immigration plans. It is obvious that the only people responsible for these low wages are senior management in Manchester University.
I met another young academic who would have been on strike but their teaching has been cut this semester, so they was there in solidarity.
From Monday 24 February there will be 74 colleges and universities on strike.
The strikers need solidarity from other unions and Manchester Trades Union Council has organised a UCU Strike Solidarity Day this Tuesday 25 February from 8.30am. They are asking trade unionists to join strikers and students and bring branch banners, TU flags and solidarity collections because nothing says we support you like cards full of signatures and money.
We should be building support for the UCU strikes across the trade union movement.
Meet at 8.30am, Tuesday 25 February, University Place, Oxford Road, Manchester.
Sarah Ensor, branch sec IOPC (pc)