Occupiers yesterday celebrated the news of UCU's potential recognition, and later played football outside the Senate HouseCambridge Defend education

On the 6th day of the occupation of Cambridge’s Old Schools building yesterday students celebrated the beginning of negotiations for the recognition of the University and Colleges Union (UCU) by the University, as they supported the International Women’s Day protests happening just outside.

Members of UCU met with Vice Chancellor Professor Stephen Toope, who agreed to meet one of their demands by inviting them to submit a claim for recognition.

UCU’s call for recognition goes back 13 years, and also one of the student occupiers’ six demands, being also one of the main drivers of the 2010 occupation of Old Schools. The news also comes as strikes today enter their 10th day during their fourth and final week, with staff demanding fairer pension scheme contributions and pay, and equality of wages.

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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“This is a hugely significant step, and it’s down to the strength of our strikes” UCU told Varsity.

The group pointed out that “This is not the end of our campaign for recognition. But it is a real and promising beginning.”

In fact, students have stated that they will continue the occupation “and continue to escalate until the University concedes to the rest of their demands”. These include a statement in support of UCU’s demands to be met by employers and national pensions, as well as the establishing of a twice termly meeting with students and staff by the Vice Chancellor.

The industrial action also took a different turn yesterday with a special rally held marking Women’s Strike Action, where students and staff wore red and held red balloons and placards that highlighted the issues affecting women in the strikes.

Student occupiers playing football yesterdayCambridge Defend Education

Protestors highlighted, and demanded action on an improvement to the current 19.7% gender pay gap in the University, as well as the need of establishing 26 weeks paid parental leave, following the model of Oxford, TFL and the UK civil service.

Moreover, the UCU and CUSU co-hosted a ‘Cycling Feminist Picket’ where a ‘Hammers and Cycles’ group visited different picket lines.

“Today students and UCU members across the country have stood with the Women’s Strike to say that this strike is a feminist strike” said CUSU/GU Welfare and Rights Officer Stella Swain during the rally.

A spokesperson from CDE, currently still occupying two floors of the Old Schools University administration building re-emphasised their support of the industrial action.


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Students protest Homerton anniversary Charter dinner in support of striking staff

“These strikes give us the opportunity to reimagine what a university could look like: one in which all gendersare treated equally, where reproductive labour is valued and shared, and where violence against women is taken seriously.”

Meanwhile, the occupiers also left the Old Schools building on King’s Parade for a short break yesterday to play a game of football on the grass outside the Senate House.