University in lockdown over student occupation

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Credit: Hamish Morrison

Hamish Morrison
Editor

Clairification: Cafeteria services housed in the Main Building, along with the outdoor areas are unaffected by the lockdown.

A group of students, Glasgow University Strike Solidarity (GUSS) have occupied the Senate Room, resulting in a lockdown of the University’s Main Building. The occupation has been coordinated with students at Strathclyde University who are also locked in one of their campus buildings.

The GUSS have put forward the following demands to the University’s senior management:

“1. We want Senior Management to show their full support for the strikers by adequately providing the student body with information about the strike on a national and local level. The last update they released through official channels was March 7th. This is unacceptable.

2. We want the Senior Management to reveal the full extent of their relationship and actions in respect to the UUK by providing notes from meetings and on correspondence, and thereby showing that their stances on the striking staff’s actions and demands are as supportive as they claim.

3. We want full pay for staff participating in strike action – in agreeing to this, Senior Management would concretely demonstrate their full support for the striking members of staff and ensure that staff do not endure hardship whilst exercising their right to withdraw their labour.

4. We want Senior Management to commit to full support of any future industrial action undertaken by striking members of staff in response to negotiations and proposed solutions.”

They went on to say that “further action” will be taken if their demands are not met.

A group of around 12 students, organised through the Facebook group “Students Support the UCU Pensions Strike Glasgow University” are locked in the room, with campus security allowing no-one in or out of the Main Building. All buildings on University Gardens were locked down for a few hours this morning as a result of the occupation, but are now open again.

This comes after union members rejected the deal jointly put forward by the UCU and Universities UK on Monday night

A spokesperson for the group said: “The GUSS would like to say that this is unacceptable behaviour from senior management, who are using draconian measures against peaceful protest. They were aware of demands from the student population over the UCU strikes and failed to respond adequately. The GUSS are unhappy that students are being refused access to the sit-in and hope that management come to their senses and allow students into the Senate Room.”

Kate Powell, SRC President went to visit the students this morning and made the following statement: “I went to see those occupying the Senate Room this morning to listen to them and offer our support. They want the University to be more transparent in its negotiations, we too want this and have pushed the University to release more information and for the Principal to speak directly with the group. This shows that UofG students are choosing to show solidarity with striking staff and pushing for a fairer outcome.”

An email sent to all University of Glasgow students by the University’s internal communications reiterated their previous statements saying that their “position is essentially the same as that of the UCU’s and will not change as a result of any future strike action”. They also restated that they were willing to put more money into the pension fund. In response to demands for communications between the University and UUK, the University stated that most of the communication has been “verbal” and therefore unavailable.The Glasgow Guardianalso understands that the Communications office offered the chance to speak directly to Anton Muscatelli, but that after some deliberation on the part of GUSS, this was turned down.

A spokesperson for the University said: “Around a dozen students entered the Senate Room in the University earlier today. The Chief Operating Officer and the Deputy Secretary of Court visited them and explained that the Principal has again publicly called for national talks without preconditions as a means of reaching a settlement that is acceptable to all parties. The Principal also offered to speak to those involved in the action. An email with the latest information on the strike and what this means for students has already been issued to all students and all staff. The students have been entirely peaceful in their action and the University is satisfied that there is no risk to health and safety.”