The 3 Cosas Campaign kickstarted the new term today with a successful demonstration outside the iconic University of London Senate House building in Bloomsbury, defying a ban on protest imposed by the University over the summer.
The campaign is continuing its campaign for equal sick pay, holidays and pensions for all workers at the University, whether outsourced or directly-employed.
Workers and students are also concerned about potential job losses as a result of the University’s plan to redevelop the ‘Garden Halls’, three intercollegiate halls of residence. The Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB), the union representing workers in the halls, would like assurances that workers, many of whom have been working there for many years, will be redeployed to other parts of the University come the start of building work next summer.
When protesters arrived at Senate House, University management had the site blocked off. After a loud and visible rally on Russell Square, many protesters peacefully gained access to the Senate House carpark and held a rally outside the library.
At this point, we can only presume that the University called the police. As one member of University staff filmed workers and students from a balcony, police arrived armed with tasers and attempted to kettle those assembled and prevent them from leaving the carpark.
This provoked an angry reaction from students at the nearby School of Oriental and African studies (SOAS) who rushed to reinforce their fellow students and staff at Senate House.
University of London Union (ULU) Vice President Daniel Lemberger Cooper, who addressed the demo today, said: ‘What we saw today was an irreconcilable divide within the university between those students and staff who are fighting for humane working conditions for some of our lowest-paid workers, and members of senior management who invited cops on to our campus to harass and monitor students. This episode is yet another low point in the University’s continuing pattern of disgraceful behaviour’.