Students disrupted the Vice chancellor’s speech by banging pots and pansCambridge Defend Education

Students from Cambridge Defend Education (CDE) disrupted a speech given by Vice Chancellor Stephen Toope this evening (18/03) to protest the University’s continued refusal to recognise the University and Colleges Union (UCU).

Approximately 20 students staged a noise protest outside the chapel on Trinity Lane, where Toope was speaking ahead of the college’s annual Benefactors’ Dinner. Afterwards, students distributed flyers to dinner guests as they left the service.

The UCU had given today as the last working day the University could recognise the union before workers go on strike again. Monday (21/03) will therefore see another round of strike action, the third this academic year.

Cambridge is the only public university in the UK not to recognise the UCU. Recognising the union would mean the university would be unable to change working conditions or make redundancies without consulting the UCU.

CDE recently staged an occupation of a lecture block at Sidgwick Site which lasted for nine days.


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CDE told Varsity: “It is outrageous that University management still refuse to listen to the demands of UCU, forcing workers to go on strike for the third time this academic year.

“Whilst Toope and other senior management enjoy fancy dinners and six figure paychecks, the workers that actually provide our education face increasing precarity, huge gender and racial pay gaps and massive pension cuts. When the University denies workers a real seat at the table by refusing to recognise UCU, students won’t allow UCU’s demands go unheard.”

Varsity has contacted the University for comment.