Manchester Metropolitan University staff go on strike as union blasts ‘ludicrously low’ pay rise

MMU is one of two North West universities where staff represented by trade union Unison have taken industrial action.
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Staff at a Manchester university are involved in two days of strike action in a dispute over what a leading trade union terms a “ludicrously low” pay rise.

Employees at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) walked out on Tuesday (4 October) and are also on strike on Wednesday (5 October).

Trade union Unison says that with the cost of living soaring the pay increase staff have been offered effectively amounts to a pay cut.

MMU is one of two North West institutions where staff are on strike in the action co-ordinated by Unison.

The university said it was disappointed that staff have chosen to strike.

Who is on strike at MMU, when is it and why is it happening?

The staff who have gone on strike at MMU include administrators, cleaners, library, security and catering employees.

Unison says these workers are among the lowest paid in the higher education sector.

They took the decision to walk out after being offered a pay rise of 3% by the University and Colleges Employers Association, the trade union said.

Staff had been asking for a pay increase 2% above the rate of inflation, which currently stands at 9.9%.

The trade union says that with the cost of living as it currently is, the pay rise the employees have been offered effectively amounts to a pay cut.

Strike action is taking place at MMU on Tuesday (4 October) and Wednesday (5 October).

Union members at Liverpool Hope are also on strike on Tuesday and they have agreed two further days of walk-outs next week.

What has been said about the strike action?

Unison North West higher education lead Andy Rutherford said: “Low pay has been a massive, and growing, problem in the university sector for upwards of a decade.

“Staff have become expert at stretching their pay to make ends meet. But the shock of the cost of living crisis has pushed many to breaking point, with no end in sight and problems likely to get worse.

“It’s always a very difficult decision to strike but staff feel they’ve been left with no choice. A 3% pay award is nowhere near enough and the employers know it. This ludicrously low increase does nothing to ease the financial pressures for thousands of struggling staff.

“Neither of these universities has come to the table to improve the offer or find a sensible way forward. If they don’t put people before profits and pay staff proper, fair wages employees will vote with their feet and leave universities for better paid, less stressful jobs elsewhere.”

An MMU spokesman said: “We are disappointed that our local Unison branch has chosen this course of action. We fully appreciate the issues that the cost of living crisis creates.

“Manchester Metropolitan is part of the national pay negotiations which has resulted in an award at this university which ranges from 3% to 7.5% depending on current salary.

“However, the university has decided to award an additional 2% on top of this in recognition of the efforts colleagues have made over the last 12 months.

“This will mean our lower-paid colleagues will be receiving a pay rise of around 9.5%.

“The Unison representation at the University amounts to around 15% of our total workforce and we will be putting plans in place to ensure our operations are not impacted by the strike action, and in particular our students continue to receive the high-quality academic experience they expect.”