Bristol Uni students have taken over the Great Hall as they barricade themselves inside Wills Memorial

The occupiers have brought sleeping bags and have said they aren’t leaving until their demands are met

Bristol Uni students have occupied the Great Hall within the Wills Memorial Building in solidarity with staff striking  over cuts to their pay and pensions.

The students took over the Great Hall shortly after 8am this morning bringing sleeping bags and supplies with them. They have told The Bristol Tab: “At this stage, we are not attempting to negotiate with them.”

As well as a list of demands that include no repercussions for the occupiers, the students have said they currently have no access to toilets or running water and have accused security of threatening to call the police on their own students.

A spokesperson for the university said students do have access to “toilets and amenities” and the university will not “take action” against students for peaceful occupation.

University staff who are members of the UCU are currently taking part in the final three days of strike action. The strikes which began two weeks ago have so far consisted of pickets and rallies before this morning’s escalation.

In a statement from the occupiers, they said: “This action has been taken in solidarity with the UCU who are currently striking over the 35 per cent cut to their pensions recently agreed by the UUK (Universities UK).

“This cut threatens the livelihoods of a sector already devastated by casualisation and precarity. On top of UUK’s rejection of the UCUs mild demands, university management has further punished staff through their threat to withhold pay for action short of strike.”

The students have published a list of demands they want the university to meet:

  • No repercussions for the occupiers
  • Reverse the decisions to withhold pay from staff taking ASoS (Action short of Strike)
  • Back UCU proposals to pension plans
  • Spread “strike day” pay losses across multiple monthly payslip

The occupiers have said they will maintain their barricade until university management stop punishing staff and meet the demands.

A University of Bristol spokesperson said: “We are aware that students are currently occupying the Great Hall in the Wills Memorial Building.

“The action follows similar occupations at several other universities in which students are supporting the ongoing industrial action by lecturers and academic staff which is part of a complex national dispute over staff pay and pensions.

“Students have access to toilets and amenities. We have never taken action against students for peaceful occupation and will not do so in this case.”

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