SALFORD STUDENTS TO PROTEST UNIVERSITY STRIKES
Students at the University of Salford (UoS) have organised a protest in response to the strike action being taken by their lecturers.
The demonstration, which is expected to attract dozens of students from across the University, will begin at 1pm outside Clifford Whitworth Library on Peel Park Campus.
Lecturers from across the University walked out last Thursday in a dispute over pensions, triggering a month-long series of escalating strikes that total 14 days.
The University of Salford have asked students to continue attending lectures as normal, but some students are choosing not to cross the picket line at entrances to Peel Park, Frederick Road and MediaCityUK buildings.
Jay Smith, organiser of the protest, decided to make the event due to a lack of student support for striking lecturers.
She said: “I hadn't seen much evidence of student support. Although, now, loads of students have been showing support on social media and on campus.
“People’s pensions are being potentially ruined and that is not okay. I think it’s important for us to show our support because the sooner this is resolved, the sooner we can get back to normal lectures.”
The University of Salford Students’ Union (USSU) have encouraged students to support lecturers and promised to hold UoS to account.
In a statement to students on their website, USSU Sabbatical Officers said: “The University of Salford Students’ Union is proud to stand in solidarity with the University College Union (UCU) – the Trade Union for many academic staff at the University of Salford.
“Though the strike may be frustrating for many of you, the objective of our position is to ensure better long-term support for our academics, and a happy and engaged workforce that can offer you the very best student experience.
“We need great lecturers to come to Salford and work with us – maintaining the current pension scheme is central to that.
“We are encouraging the University to pressure UUK to enter back in to meaningful negotiations for a quick resolution, while lobbying to hold the University to account, ensuring that you receive the education that you have been promised and you can achieve the degree you set out to achieve.”
The full statement can be read here.
After negotiations collapsed in January, 90% of Salford’s UCU members voted for strike action.
UCU claim that lecturers have no choice but to take action against changes to the pension scheme, which could see some lose £10,000 a year in retirement.
In a statement, UCU said: “No education professional wants to strike but we also deserve long-term security and our students deserve staff who are able to focus fully on the job.
“Staff feel angry and betrayed but even now we call on university leaders to work with us to find a solution and avoid widespread disruption for our students.”
The Vice-Chancellor of UoS, Professor Helen Marshall, released a statement on Friday responding to the strike action.
She said: “I want to thank all staff for the good nature and collegiality that was shown across the University yesterday.
“They have been grateful that sessions led by staff not taking action have gone ahead as planned and the good nature of those exercising their right to strike on picket lines.
“The national dispute is complex with many conflicting views about the potential liabilities of the USS. The ability for all our staff to financially plan for their future is essential. Equally, the ability for the University to sustain its contributions to the pension scheme is critical for our future.
"I hope that the current dispute can be resolved as quickly as possible and that we have an outcome for all parties that is fair and affordable.”