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Sheffield students are occupying The Octagon in solidarity with striking university staff

And for some reason they’re wearing hazmat suits

Students at University of Sheffield are occupying The Octagon building in solidarity with striking university lecturers and staff.

The students, part of the group Sheffield Action Group, arrived at the building around 11am this morning adorned in hazmat suits and surgical masks where they unfurled banners saying “SOLIDARITY” and “No redundancies, save the archaeology department”.

The group claim Sheffield’s Vice-Chancellor Koen Lamberts and other university academics were due to cross the picket line today by attending the annual Higher Education Strategic Planners (HESPA) conference this afternoon, scheduled to be held in the Octagon Centre. Due to the occupation, the conference was subsequently cancelled.

Last month, 18 days of strikes days were announced. Scheduled to take place over a two month period during February and March, 70,oo0 members of university staff at 150 universities nationwide are expected to participate making this the biggest period of industrial action ever seen. This comes after last academic year saw 18 days of strike action in total.

A spokesperson for the University of Sheffield said: “Unfortunately a small group of people occupied the Octagon Centre this morning where a conference was due to start. The conference has now been cancelled.”

Featured image via @sheffaction on Twitter.

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