We spoke to the UCU protesters that occupied the VC’s suite yesterday
There may be further action planned by the group
Yesterday at 7:30am a group of around 15 students occupied the VC’s suite on the fifth floor of the Foundation Building in protest of attacks on university workers’ pensions. The actions of the students acting under the name of “Liverpool Students for Pensions” are being fully supported by the Liverpool Guild of Students. The protest was peaceful and went on for around nine and a half hours.
The Tab interviewed some members of the group to gain a greater understanding of their agenda, and what they wish to convey to the student body.
The group told The Tab that the inspiration came from the rising amount of student occupations all over the country, as well as many examples of students taking action in the past. One example mentioned was newsreader John Snow taking part in a rooftop demonstration and student occupation of Senate House in 1970, resulting in being expelled from the University of Liverpool.
Liverpool Students for Pensions targeted Vice Chancellor Janet Beer’s suite in the Foundation Building due to her role as President of Universities UK (UUK). It was a message of discontent with Beer’s actions with regards to the ongoing pension dispute.
The students reported that they were closely guarded for the nine and a half hours and they claim that were also denied access to toilet facilities or any alternatives. This led to the end of the protest at around 5pm yesterday. The group did not feel as though they intimidated anyone, as it was an entirely peaceful protest, and hope they encouraged further solidarity from other students.
We demand Janet Beer return to negotiations with the UCU and has a consultation with staff and students at Mountford…
The group want their aims and beliefs to be made clear: a wider debate about the state of current education needs to be continued. The occupation was instigated in order to support the striking university workers and the University and College Union (UCU). They feel as though the monetisation of education is leading to dangerous issues such as the assault on workers’ pensions. They made it clear that their discontent and anger is not directed at the lecturers themselves in any way.
Liverpool Students for Pensions took the opportunity to encourage other student activists from universities across the country as there is potential for action to take place throughout a massive network of students. They believe that there will be a huge increase in similar acts of support, including picket lines and demonstrations.
When questioned about students who are still attending lecturers, the group encouraged students to not cross the picket lines. Those that are worried about their education should resist from attending as it shows a lack of solidarity, the easiest way for the strikes to end sooner is for everyone to be united behind lecturers they told us. If everyone refused to attend, change would happen. Whilst the group understand that some students may want to still attend lectures, they encourage them to stand in union with striking lecturers. Lecturers don’t want to be striking, they feel a large amount of guild and students will definitely benefit when their lecturers feel financially secure.
— Kirsteen Paton (@KirsteenPaton) February 27, 2018
In relation to results day, the group commented that they “understand that students are angry and disappointed, but it’s only not a long delay and at the end of the day we need to empathise with the lecturers. All of us want safety and security in our future jobs, we should be able to understand that.”
When we asked the group if they had any future action planned they were reluctant to comment but told students to keep an eye out.