Sussex students blockade campus building

Posted On 16 Mar 2023 at 6:01 pm

Students at University of Sussex blackaded a campus building entrance today to show solidarity with lecturers on strike.

A group of protesters were outside Sussex House, a university staff office building with banners and instruments from 8.50am this morning until 5pm this evening.

The banners hung around the building read “Community need not corporate greed”, “Danger: unsafe working conditions” and, “End of the line, it’s negotiation time.”

The student-led group, called Sussex Student Solidarity, say they are acting in support of the University and Colleges Union (UCU) members who are fighting for fair pay and secure employment.

In a statement the group said: “We are calling for the UCU’s demands to be taken seriously, immediately.

“Students are missing out on a large portion of the degrees that they’re paying thousands of pounds a year to receive.

“They are experiencing vast amounts of disruption yet the university doesn’t seem to care about anything other than the money it continues to rake in.

“If they want to ignore our disruption, we will bring the disruption to them.”

One of the student participants said: “’The University of Sussex is refusing to accept their responsibility of paying staff properly.

“I’m paying £9000 a year to be at a university which should care about its staff, not one where I can’t attend classes because lecturers aren’t able, physically or emotionally, to provide the education that our society needs.”

A Sussex UCU Branch member said: “While this is a spontaneous action by students we’re always happy to see how much solidarity Sussex students have with staff.

“Students at Sussex have always passionately supported the strikes and it’s a testament to our great relationships with them.”

This follows a protest last year, when students occupied a lecture theatre to demand better pay and conditions for university staff.

A University of Sussex spokesperson said: “This industrial action was called over national issues and is happening at around 150 universities across the UK.

“We respect colleagues’ right to strike to improve pay, working conditions, and pensions – and the rights of students to support them.

“Progress with campus unions including the University and College Union (UCU) has been made nationally.

“Earlier this month, universities announced a pay uplift for staff of between 5 percent and 7 percent, with the lowest paid set to benefit most.

“At Sussex, significant progress has already been made in collaboration with UCU following a joint agreement on areas of employment policy and practice.

“In November, the University announced a new package of support for its students and staff to help them manage rising living costs which, when combined with similar support provided in the summer, totals around £6.6 million.

“In respect of the USS pensions scheme, Universities UK has recently indicated that, following a new valuation, employees should see pensions benefits improve and return to pre-April 2022 levels.”

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