Below is a statement by students who, following a call to action by Student Strike Solidarity, occupied buildings on campus at eleven UK universities in solidarity with striking UCU staff.
Students at 11 universities are now in occupation in solidarity with striking University and College Union (UCU) staff.
Major escalation occurred on Monday 9 March with 8 university occupations were staged in support of higher education workers in the UCU.
Demands include immediate resolutions to the ongoing UCU disputes over pay, inequalities, casualisation, workload and pensions, as well as ending the hostile environment on university campuses and radical action on climate change.
Yesterday, students occupied university buildings at University College London (UCL), University of Arts London (UAL), the Royal College of Art (RCA), Exeter, Manchester, Nottingham, Imperial College and Liverpool. Students at Cambridge, Edinburgh and Brighton were already in occupation.
These occupations are in solidarity with staff organised in UCU who are now in their fourth week of strike action this academic term at over 70 universities.
This new wave of direct action from students follows a call for escalation from the national activist network Student Strike Solidarity. Among other things, the occupiers are calling on their university Vice-Chancellors to lobby the employers’ consortia with whom UCU is in dispute, Universities UK (UUK) and the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), to concede to UCU’s strike demands. In addition to providing solidarity with UCU, the Liverpool and Imperial College occupations were launched as part of this week’s ‘Decarbonise, Decolonise, Democratise’ campaign by Extinction Rebellion (XR).
Several high profile visitors are set to get involved, with columnist Owen Jones having already visited the UCL occupation yesterday to show his support, and the President of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) Ian Godson due to talk at the Cambridge occupation on Friday.
From the Exeter occupation, students this morning made the following statement:
‘The age of apathetic engagement in politics is over, it’s either do or die. We act now or forever lose to neoliberal capitalism. Take your lecture theatres, seize your management buildings, make your university feel the pain and suffering it causes its staff. Love and rage, and solidarity.’
Sam from the Nottingham University occupation said:
‘Yesterday students across the country said enough is enough. Our staff need paying a proper wage, they need fair pensions, and as students we’re demanding our university management and the national negotiating bodies listen immediately. These escalations will continue for as long as necessary, to ensure victory for the staff and students under attack from the erosion of their basic working conditions. We say down with casualised, underpaid and outsourced campuses – for genuine staff and student control over our universities!’
Support the UCU and EIS strikes
See above for ideas for how you can show solidarity. We have published a collection sheet for the UCU strikers. It is best to take money directly to pickets or donate to local strike funds if you can. Otherwise you can contribute to the UCU national strike fund online via Account: ‘UCU Fighting Fund’, sort code: 60-83-01, account: 20179432, reference: ‘Fighting Fund Voluntary Levy’; or send a cheque payable to ‘University and College Union’ to Fighting Fund donation, Finance Department, UCU, Carlow Street, London, NW1 7LH. You can donate to the EIS strike fund online via account Name ‘EIS’, sort code: 60 83 01, account: 20315704, reference ‘ULA Levy’.