Strike action has taken place this morning (March 22) as members of the University and College Union (UCU) manned the picket lines of the University of Salford campuses.
Union members are taking action against pay gaps; casualisation and precarious employment practices; unsafe workloads and failing pay as they feel that their employers are consistently failing to address these issues.
Pay has been cut by nearly 20% since 2009 and many still face 15% gender;17% ethnicity and 9% disability pay gaps while the workload for university staff is continuing to increase with some working between 50-60 hours a week.
Doctor Gary Morrisroe, a BA TV and Radio programme lecturer at the University of Salford, joined the picket line today in MediaCityUK.
He said: “We’re maxed out. We’re tired. We’re struggling.”
“The students’ experience is impacted by the lecturer’s experience and that’s what we’re fighting for today. We’d rather not be out here today. We’d rather be teaching. We need to be here because we’re forced to.”
UCU has said that striking is their last resort as a long line of action has been ignored and the future of higher education is under increasing threat.
Umran Ali, a UCU member, said: “We aren’t doing this lightly. How can we inspire the next generation of students if we are fighting? This is our life. We need you to support us.”
The mental wellbeing and safety of staff is something that is at the forefront of the strikes. Ali expressed that staff are “exhausted and broken”.
“The colleagues that don’t make this is in solidarity with them.”
Many university staff have been unable to afford basic living costs and forced to take on second jobs with one admitting to living in a tent and another living in the university library.
The most recent pay offer for 2021/2022 was a 1.5% increase, compared to the inflation of living costs of 7.5% and energy costs of 50%.
The growing inequality affects both staff and students as poor working conditions translates as poor learning conditions.
Ali expressed that it is not an attack on individual universities, it is a national crisis and the aim of the strike is to put pressure on the government and evoke an overhaul of the National Pay Framework 2009.
He highlighted, students don’t remember the building when looking back at their university experience, it is the lecturers and staff that have the most impact and they are asking for students to stand with their lecturers by spreading awareness on social media and writing to MPs.