The group protested outside Homerton College as the Charter dinner was taking placeCambridge Defend Education

30 students from Homerton and Cambridge Defend Education (CDE) last night disrupted Homerton’s 10th Anniversary Charter Dinner, in protest of University management attending despite little progress being made on meeting UCU demands.

The students played music, danced and partied outside the drinks reception, holding banners and chanting their demands while attendees watched from inside. The group also chanted “recognition now”, and picketed the entrance of Homerton as dinner guests exited their Evensong.

The Charter dinner was being held to mark 10 years since Homerton received its Royal Charter, and became an official self-governing college. The action comes as UCU industrial action enters its fourth and final week, and as students continue to occupy the Old Schools administration site in support of striking lecturers.

“While the lavish dinner celebrates the recognition of Homerton by the University, UCU remains unrecognised by the University,” the activist group CDE - who fight for the “empowerment of education” - told Varsity.

“We crashed their party - and disrupted their fine dining - to demand recognition for Cambridge UCU now.”

The group added that “whilst management continues to wine and dine in the midst of the second round of strikes of this academic year, we reminded them of the precarious working conditions leading to industrial action.”

One Homerton student also at the protest stated they “hope these University decision makers reflect on the fact that, while their drinking port and smoking big cigars, there are thousands of workers struggling because Cambridge University refuses to have proper recognition agreement with UCU, even though Oxford does.”

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The action marks further escalation of CDE's actions, meant to pressure the University into accepting UCU demands, which include fair pay, equality of wages and recognising UCU as a Union.

Meanwhile, at their occupation of Old Schools, CDE continue to emphasise they will remain inside the building on King’s Parade until the University meets their demands.

In full CDE's six demands

1. The University of Cambridge must recognise UCU.

2. The VC, Stephen Toope, must make a public statement calling for UCU’s demands to be met by employers and the national pensions and employment bodies.

3. The VC must set out the University of Cambridge’s plans for meeting the national and local UCU demands, alongside those of UNITE and UNISON.

4. The VC must sign the Undoing Borders ‘Pledge Against the Hostile Environment’.

5. The VC must agree to an open meeting before the end of term as part of a commitment to meet with students and workers twice termly.

6. Students and workers face no disciplinary measures for taking part in peaceful direct action in support of the strikes.

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Varsity has contacted the University for further comment.

This article was updated on 10/03/2020 after Varsity was made aware that the Vice Chancellor Professor Stephen Toope was not in attendance at the Charter dinner. The article was amended to reflect this, and the inaccuracy was removed.