On Tuesday morning, at around 6 am, a group of University of Edinburgh students occupied the David Hume Tower at George Square in support of striking staff at the university.
The action came on the second day out of eight of the ongoing UCU strikes taking place at universities across the country.
Social media representing the ‘Staff-Student Solidarity’ group who instigated the occupation have set out demands which they claim are the ‘UCU’s demands’. They also state they ‘will occupy the building until the demands put forward by the UCU have been met’.
The post states that these demands are:
‘Pay Equality: as students, we condemn the race, gender and disability pay gaps. It is
despicable that the gender pay gap is 15% and the race pay gap is as high as 26%.
‘Anti-Casualisation: staff are increasingly working on precarious, short-term and fixed
term contracts. This generates stress around job insecurity and living conditions.
‘Fair work-load: staff are having to take on more and more work, much of which is
unpaid. It’s estimated University workers have 15, and up to 40, hours of unpaid work
every single week.
‘Secure Pensions: continuing on from the unresolved strike of 2018, the safety of quality
pensions for all staff is still under attack. Younger staff stand to pay £40,000 more in contributions, for £200,000 less in retirement pay. Staff demand fairness, accuracy and transparency for pensions, and we echo this.’
The post also addresses other aspects of the strike, stating:
‘We further condemn the university and the Home Office for forcing international PhD students and staff to cross the picket line. We demand the university take action against such racist and xenophobic policies.’
The post states that, ‘Our occupation is inclusive, democratic, liberatory and fundamentally anti-capitalist.
‘We have taken this building peacefully and in good-faith. The building is open for students who are in solidarity with striking staff, and we are organising and running the occupation on the basis of a safe-space policy.’
Signs hanging from the windows of the tower stated ‘Occupied’ and another reads ‘Don’t go to class’.
A spokesperson for Edinburgh University Student’s Association told The Student:
‘We support the right of our members to peaceful protest.
The Students’ Association supports all those fighting for fairer pensions and equal pay and we are working to build solidarity between students and staff through joint events, supporting those who are on strike, visiting pickets and lobbying the University as well as national bodies to return to negotiations with UCU.’
Updates on the strikes will be ongoing.
Image: John Lord via Flickr.com