We demand better: UCU at the TUC march and rally, 18 June 2022 We demand better: UCU at the TUC march and rally, 18 June 2022 Boycott Goldsmiths HE dispute: ASOS - support the ongoing action

Strike threat at Manchester Metropolitan University as in-person teaching to resume despite city's tier 3 status

29 October 2020

Manchester Metropolitan University has told staff to prepare to return to campus for in-person teaching just four days after the city entered into tier three lockdown.

UCU said it was reckless for the university to revert to in-person teaching when the rest of the city was moving into tier three to try and control the virus.

The union tried to discuss the dangers of in-person teaching with management through the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), after lodging a failure to agree notice when the university continued to demand staff return to campus. The union has said that if the decision to push ahead with in-person teaching is not reversed, then it will have no choice but to ballot members for industrial action.

Manchester entered tier three on Friday 23 October to stop the NHS being overwhelmed by the Covid health crisis. Four days later Manchester Metropolitan University vice-chancellor Professor Malcolm Press told staff they must return to campus for in-person teaching from Monday 2 November, so that students are offered up to three hours of on campus activity each week. The university had moved teaching online on 7 October due to a huge increase in Covid infections across Manchester. The latest data shows infection rates are continuing to rise across Manchester, with rates more than double the national average.

UCU regional official Martyn Moss said: 'The people of Manchester are making huge sacrifices to try to contain the spread of the virus. Yet Manchester Metropolitan University's vice-chancellor wants to undermine the city's sacrifice, and risk the health and safety of staff and students by urging them to return to campus.

'Staff have spent the past three weeks teaching online, and the university needs to give them the resources to continue to provide students the best possible remote learning experience under these difficult conditions, instead of rushing to return to in-person teaching.

'We want to work with the university to make sure that staff and students are supported during this difficult time and we tried to come to an agreement with management through ACAS, but asking staff to resume in-person teaching is unacceptable, so we have declared a dispute with the university. If the vice-chancellor continues to risk the health of staff, students and the local community in this cavalier manner we will have no choice but to ballot our members for industrial action.'

Last updated: 29 October 2020