At 7:30am today, a group of University students occupied the fifth floor of the Foundation Building in a peaceful protest in support of the current University and College Union (UCU) strike. The occupation included Vice-Chancellor Janet Beer’s private suite. The occupation was an attempt to demonstrate their discontent with Beer’s “assault on worker’s pensions” as part of her role as President of Universities UK (UUK). The group of students acted independently from the UCU under the name of ‘Liverpool Students for Pensions’.

‘Liverpool Students for Pensions’ issued a press release this morning at around 10am relaying their demands as:

  1. “We demand that Janet Beer, as President of UUK, guarantee the maintenance of defined benefits for all members of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) in any negotiations with the UCU.
  2.  We demand that Janet Beer, as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, attend a meeting at Mountford Hall in the Liverpool Guild of Students open to all staff and students so that she may be held accountable for her actions in this dispute.”

‘Liverpool Students for Pensions’ also addressed wider issues in their press release regarding the Higher Education system. These issues included, but were not limited to, University accommodation rent and zero-hour contracts.

In response to the peaceful protest the Liverpool Guild of Students issued a statement in support of the peaceful demonstration:

“Liverpool Guild of Students fully supports students’ right to peacefully protest.

The Guild is committed to supporting the ongoing UCU strike and are also demanding that the UUK protect staff’s current pension benefits. We are also pleased that the occupiers are raising a variety of other issues such as the high cost of rent in University accommodation.

We are in contact with the University and the occupiers and are seeking to ensure students’ rights and welfare are safeguarded”

The peaceful protest ended just after 5pm today. After spending “nine and a half hours being closely guarded and denied access to toilet facilities or any alternatives”, the occupation of the fifth floor of the Foundation Building was stopped due to it being “no longer feasible”. The group of students were escorted out of the building with ‘Liverpool Students for Pensions’ issuing a statement.

“Despite the ending of our occupation, we are confident that our central demand – the protection of defined benefits for university staff – will be achieved through the UCU’s strike action alongside student support. 

We were incredibly thankful to the support and solidarity offered by striking university staff and fellow students. We are in this struggle together, fighting against the marketisation of Higher Education and the assault on workers’ terms and conditions.
We hope that our action today will act as a catalyst for further action and help build mass support for the ongoing strike action.”

To see the full press releases from ‘Liverpool Students for Pensions’ and the Guild’s statement, follow the links below:

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=715184415536115&id=714901628897727

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=714921995562357&id=714901628897727

https://www.liverpoolguild.org/articles/ucu-industrial-action-foundation-building-occupation