The University and College Union (UCU) revealed that an overwhelming majority of its members, who voted in a recent ballot, supported industrial action, reflecting growing discontent among staff.
This marks the fifth instance this year in which staff have resorted to strikes.
The strike is in response to the rejection of a 2.7% pay offer, deemed insufficient given the ongoing cost of living crisis and high inflation rates.
The UCU emphasizes that improved pay and working conditions are vital to retain staff and safeguard the interests of students.
Last summer, the UCU published a report highlighting the financial insecurity faced by a significant majority of college staff, leading to adverse effects on their mental health.
The report revealed that over 80% of staff members experienced financial instability, with many resorting to skipping meals and reducing essential utility usage to make ends meet.
Furthermore, seven out of ten staff members expressed intentions to leave the sector unless substantial improvements were made to their pay and working conditions.
The primary catalyst for the strike action is the rejection of a 2.7% pay increase, which is the lowest among colleges in the North-West region.
Against the backdrop of a cost of living crisis and inflation rates exceeding 13%, the offer has been deemed inadequate by the union.
Members are calling for a fair offer that accurately reflects their dedication and hard work, as well as acknowledges the financial pressures they face.
Matt Arrowsmith, a regional official of the UCU, stressed that Manchester College is financially capable of providing better compensation to its staff.
He emphasized that staff members have always prioritized the best interests of students and have resorted to strike action as a last resort after years of below-inflation pay settlements.
Arrowsmith expressed concern over the number of colleagues leaving the profession, highlighting the challenges of adequately preparing students for exams and assessments amidst such uncertain circumstances.
He urged college leadership to resume negotiations and present a fair offer that recognizes the dedication of the staff and addresses their financial burdens.
The strike action has raised concerns about the potential impact on students’ education.
With the disruption caused by staff shortages, it may become increasingly challenging for students to adequately prepare for summer exams and assessments.
The UCU has emphasized that their ultimate goal is to secure better pay and working conditions, which will, in turn, ensure a stable and supportive learning environment for students.
The strike will span 12 days, commencing on Monday, May 15, and concluding on Wednesday, June 7.
The dates are as follows:
- Monday, May 15, to Friday, May 19
- Monday, May 22, to Friday, May 26
- Monday, June 5
- Wednesday, June 7
The decision of Manchester College and UCEN Manchester staff to undertake a 12-day strike underscores the growing dissatisfaction among college staff regarding their pay and working conditions.
With an overwhelming majority backing industrial action, staff members are demanding fair compensation that adequately addresses the cost of living crisis and inflation rates.
The UCU’s emphasis on the financial pressures faced by staff and the potential impact on students’ education highlights the urgency for college leadership to return to the negotiating table with an improved offer.
As the strike unfolds, the hope is that a resolution can be reached to secure better pay and working conditions for staff while ensuring a stable learning environment for the students they serve.