Sheffield students occupied The Hicks Building in solidarity with striking lecturers

This is the second time Sheffield Action Group has occupied a university building this year

Students from Sheffield Action Group occupied The Hick’s Building in solidarity with striking lecturers.

The students arrived at the building around 6pm yesterday where they unfurled banners saying “students and staff unite and fight” and “one of us is all of us”. The students left the building some time later the same evening before returning this morning at about 10:30am.

The occupiers have now left Hicks Building again to instead disrupt a careers fair on campus in order to protest the university’s ties with arms dealers.

It was announced earlier this month that staff at all universities across the UK would go on strike for three days in November, campaigning for better pay and pensions. This comes after last academic year saw a total of 18 days of strike action.

The strikes started yesterday and will end on November 30th.

One of the occupying students said: “It is always deeply regretful to disrupt our fellow students and this is not the aim of our occupations.

“We feel that the disruption caused everyday to staff by poor pay, conditions and job security, and to students of inadequate mental health support, a marketised education system and the cost of living crisis, is far more disruptive to student education than an occasional occupation.

“We do not want to disrupt you; we just think that direct action alongside the UCU strikes is the only way to force management to act in the interests of the people to whom this university truly belongs.”

This is not the first time SHAG has occupied a university building. Earlier this year, the group occupied The Diamond Building on University of Sheffield’s campus calling for the university to cut all ties with companies that deals with arms.

A University of Sheffield spokesperson said: “Last night a small group of people occupied the Hicks building on the University of Sheffield campus.

“We support peaceful protests at the university, but this group of occupiers had told us their intention was to disrupt University teaching and work.

“Our priority is to minimise disruption for students as much as possible, so our security team worked to contain the occupiers in one area of the building. There were members of security at the doors at all times and the occupiers were free to leave the building at any time.

“The current UCU action are national strikes planned for three days in November. At Sheffield we have taken a number of steps to support our staff. In addition to the three per cent national pay award, staff at Sheffield have been given further increases of between another three to 6.5 per cent (six per cent – 9.5 per cent in total).

“Following discussions with our trade unions, the University has also given an additional £1,000 payment to all University staff (except the University Executive Board). These increases mean that many staff on the lowest pay grades have had pay increases of around 22 per cent since last year.”

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