Direct action gets results: Sussex six reinstated
Management at Sussex University have been forced into a u-turn following an 8-day occupation and burgeoning student-worker movement. The news came through as student occupiers were supporting the picket lines of the UCU union, who staged a one-day strike today against the planned cuts at Sussex.
Yesterday saw an unprecedented Emergency General Meeting of the University of Sussex Students Union. 850 students packed into Mandela Hall, with more turned away, voting near-unanimously to demand the unconditional reinstatement of the six students who were suspended after an occupation of management offices in Sussex House on March 3rd. Senate, a representative body consisting of mostly elected academics and unelected management also passed a similar motion, with the votes split along management/academic lines.
Today, students from the occupation – which has openly defied a High Court injunction for 8 days – joined UCU picket lines from 7am. Some non-UCU support staff refused to cross picket lines and joined them in solidarity with the strike – a general assembly of the occupation the previous evening had voted unanimously to give the same level of support to any victimised staff as has been shown for the Sussex 6. The pressure of combined student and worker direct action clearly proved too much for the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive Group, who issued a statement unconditionally withdrawing the suspensions of the Sussex 6.