University is a factory: organise, occupy, strike

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University is a Factory

Photo courtesy of David J Colbran


Safer Spaces Policy

The Policy in Brief

This policy applies to the occupation and related online spaces.

If you feel unsafe in the occupation due to somebody else’s behaviour, you should either go to one of the safer spaces volunteers or talk to anybody who you trust.  You can go to the designated safe area if you need to get out of the main occupation

You may initiate a process yourself, or with somebody you trust, or with the help of a safer spaces volunteer to deal with the behaviour.

We will do our best to keep confidentiality if requested, though it is hard to guarantee anonymity in such a small space.

If you have been subjected to violence, sexual assault or sexual harassment, the perpetrator will be removed from the occupation while the process is ongoing. The process will be survivor-led, you will be able to choose a mediator and you will not be expected to see or speak with your attacker if you do not wish to do so.

For complaints that do not involve violence, we encourage both/all parties to engage with the Conflict Resolution process, and will provide mediation if required.

Please ask to see our Conflict Resolution and Survivor-led Processes for more details.

We define the following as abusive behaviours which are not tolerated in this space: (details of each of the following were discussed within the occupation and are readily available to read here. Please ask if you would like to see them)

Physical abuse

1. Violence and threat of violence (unless in self defence)

2. Use of force and threat of force (unless minimal to protect users of the space and the space itself)

3. Rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment

Non-physical abuse

4. Verbal abuse (insults or aggression towards an individual)

5. Oppressive language (insults or generalisations about a marginalised/oppressed group of people)

6. Emotional and psychological abuse (bullying, isolating and ‘gaslighting’)

7. Harassment (behaviour made abusive by being repeated, persistent & unwelcome)

8. Written abuse (any of the above in written form)

Everybody is responsible for remaining in a state in which they do not violate this policy.


the night has come…

it’s 22:30 and a group of many students, staff and supporters are sat here in solidarity with the workers in the Irish studies building overlooking Abercromby Square here at Liverpool university.

It’s a strange group feeling here, a mixture of both excitement at the feeling of really making a difference and anticipation for the long night ahead.

Our voices are many and far reaching and although the university may evict us from this building they cannot and will not stop the community which has been generated from this strike action and from outrage at the issues which are facing the workers everyday.

The support we have received so far has been incredible and we’d like to thank all of the groups and individuals who have provided us with food, drink and blankets for the night.

As always as a collective we send our message of solidarity to both the workers and to the other occupy movements across the country, may we all succeed in our endeavors.

Protest is a right.

The story so far….

As of 18:00 the occupation is going very well, spirits are high and there is a real sense of camaraderie in the air.

We have had support from both the national trade unions such as the UCU and from striking staff from the local universties including Liverpool John Moores and Liverpool Hope.

Solidarity with the workers is our belief and we are here to stay, in the face of opposition to our campaign we have faith that we will succeed.

We’ve been provided with food and drink to get us by for the night and the optimism that is currently being shown by everyone is really reaffirming our hopes.

Both staff and students are present here and as a student voice we know that as soon as we leave university we are likely to be faced with the same issues that are currently facing the employees of the university.

In solidarity.

Fairness in employment is a right, not a privilege.

Why we occupy and what we want


Students and staff from the University of Liverpool are now ocupying the Irish Studies Department in support of today’s staff strike action and as a peaceful protest against fees and the privatisation of higher education. This is part of a wave of unified direct action and is in line with recent occupations at various universities across the country, including at the University of Birmingham, Goldsmiths University, University of Sheffield, SOAS, Edinburgh University, University of Exeter, University of Sussex, University of Warwick and University of Ulster.

The current dispute between the three major unions and the university administration is part of a wider attack on the provision of free education which has included the introduction of tuition fees, the privatisation and outsourcing of university staff via illegitimate contractual changes (e.g. zero hour contracts) and the ongoing reduction of staff pay and working conditions (a relative 13% average pay cut since 2008). The casualisation of the university workforce can only have detrimental effects on the quality of educational provision and employment conditions of support staff. These attacks come from a management whose pay is astronomical with Vice Chancellor of UoL, Howard Newby, receiving a salary of more than £300k per year along with another 37 managers receiving no less than £140k per year, ranking the University of Liverpool 17th in the country for unfair pay.

Simultaneously millions of young people are being stripped of their access to higher education. The abolition of the Educational Maintenance Allowance, a threefold rise in tuition fees, replacement of bursaries with fee waivers and the recent privatisation of some student loans are just four factors contributing to the widespread commodification of the education system. The intended result is to alienate students from their education to the point of transforming it from a universal right to a consumer product, thus a sub-prime investment in “human capital”. We reject such a transformation and consider this occupation an important reassertion of solidarity between students and staff who believe in a free, equal and accessible education system.

We support the aims of the strikers to close the entire university while strike action is taking place.


The university recently sent out an email demonising workers for taking strike action, and accusing the unions of lying without giving any evidence. We demand that the university retract this statement, and send out a new email clarifying the situation rather than providing incorrect and deliberately inflammatory information to students. We wish the email would include the input of the occupiers.

We call on university management to agree to no reprimands for UCU workers and students refusing to cross Unison/Unite picket lines tomorrow out of respect for the democratic rights of workers acting in solidarity with their colleagues.

We demand that the university management does not victimise or penalise any student or member of staff for participating in the occupation or for any other peaceful anti-cuts activism.

This occupation will continue until our demands are met. We would like to stress that this is a peaceful non-violent action with the intention of sending a message to the university administration. It is not our intention to disrupt the educational process, but to reform it.

Education is a right, not a privilege.