We, the joint trade union branches of UNISON at the University of the West of England (UWE) and the University of Bristol (UOB) call on the universities of Bristol to publicly support a ceasefire in Gaza. 

Israel’s attacks on Gaza since October 7th 2023 have killed over 11,000 civilians including more than 4,000 children and has been unanimously condemned by UN agencies, with the situation now widely thought to amount to genocide and ethnic cleansing. National and local organisations including the UNISON branches at our universities have publicly condemned the continuing violence, called for a ceasefire, the release of hostages, and humanitarian aid for the Palestinians. We now urge both universities to do the same.  

Our universities claim to be beacons of education, innovation and compassion that draw thousands of people to the city of Bristol every year with the promise of furthering their understanding of themselves and the world. If these institutions truly embody the values of humanity, they will join the growing chorus of public voices that call for a ceasefire in Gaza to prevent the indiscriminate killing of civilians, an end to the siege of Gaza by occupying forces, and for meaningful steps towards a lasting peace in Palestine. This must involve full diplomatic recognition of the State of Palestine by the UK, and concrete steps towards ending the Israeli Occupation, including through the removal of illegal Israeli settlements, the disarming of militant settler groups, and the release of Palestinian political prisoners (including all children). 

We endorse the right to boycott Israel and for the campaign to Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel which is supported by UNISON. Further, we endorse the call issued on 6th November 2023, by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel for an academic boycott of Israel in response to widespread and indiscriminate military targeting of schools, hospitals, universities and their staff and students in Gaza.  

We call on both universities of Bristol to investigate their own financial ties with Israel and divest from any sources of funding they have that are linked to Israel, its apartheid regime, and its illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.  
 
Following the donations from the university branches of UNISON to the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians, we are also asking that the universities in Bristol prioritise donating and/or fundraising to this charity, and encourage members of staff and students to do the same. 
 
We call on both Bristol universities to publicly re-affirm their commitment to protecting academic freedom and freedom of speech including through lawful expressions of solidarity with Palestinians by their staff and students. This includes creating a more positive environment for all students and staff to lawfully express their views on these issues. 

We call on the VC to respond to the Secretary of State for Education’s letter (11 October 2023) rejecting the dangerous implications of the letter’s injunction to using the Prevent agenda to stifle protected rights to free speech including through expressions of international solidarity, and in order to effectively discharge universities’ duty of care to all students and staff.  

As esteemed institutions in the civic and cultural life of the city we urge both universities to publicly condemn the violence, call for a ceasefire, the release of Israeli hostages and humanitarian aid for the Palestinians.  The University of the West and England and the University of Bristol must signal to their students, their staff, and the people of Bristol that they stand on the side of humanity and will do all that they can to support a peaceful resolution of this conflict”.

Statement endorsed by the following trades union branches; 

UNISON Branch, University of the West of England  

UNISON Branch, University of Bristol  


Some of the upcoming actions to be involved in:

  • 16th December, Bristol march for Gaza. Bristol Palestine Solidarity Campaign with Bristol Palestine Alliance, 12pm from Castle Park to College Green.
  • 13th January, National march for Palestine, 12pm in central London
  • 15th January 2024, Bristol Stop the War Coalition, planning and organising meeting to work out ideas and groups for accessible, family-friendly mass action. Time and place to be confirmed…
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