Sussex University Students Reinstated

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STRIKING lecturers and students at Sussex University celebrated yesterday when six suspended students were reinstated.

The six were suspended by the university’s management for taking part in the occupation of the university on March 3.

Sussex UCU branch president, Paul Cecil, told News Line that the union fully supported the students and on Wednesday had defeated the management at a meeting of the university’s Senate.

He said that after a long meeting the Senate narrowly agreed to support two UCU demands: one, an independent inquiry into the March 3 occupation; and two, the immediate lifting of the suspensions and unconditional reinstatement of the Sussex Six.

Yesterday 500 members of the University and College Union at Sussex took strike action against job cuts and picketed all entrances, supported strongly by hundreds of their students who have been occupying against the cuts since last week.

Management plans to impose 115 compulsory redundancies across the entire staff body.

The redundancies will mean cuts including areas such as life sciences, history, philosophy, English, student support, technical staff, porters, security, administration and the creche.

The strike followed a 76.4 per cent vote for strike action in a ballot in which there was an 80.9 per cent turnout – the highest ever for the UCU.

Management has rejected a series of counter-proposals from the areas being affected, which aim to avoid compulsory redundancies.

They have also refused to discuss with the union their reasons for making particular cuts, the UCU said.

UCU branch secretary, Jim Guild, told News Line: ‘We have a superb relationship with the students who have a firm revolutionary understanding of capitalism and the position of education workers and students in society and how it is their job to form a vanguard.’

At a picket line rally, Paul Cecil, told hundreds of occupying students: ‘This is the start of the campaign, not just here but across the country against university cuts.

‘We will continue to strike and with your support we can win,’ he added to huge applause.

Joining the picket line were Unison members from Brighton and Hove.

Branch Secretary Alex Knutsen told News Line: ‘The council are out to save £16 million next year and £50 million over three years.

‘We are looking at 500 job losses in each year for the next three years. Over the last two years we have lost 450 jobs already.’

His colleague, Sue, said: ‘This is a day after Mandelson said the unemployment figures are going down and holding up youth going into higher education as the reason.

‘What planet is he on? He’s a hypocrite and shows no logic as it is the public sector that the government has used to bolster their capitalist system.’