UCU strike determined to defeat employer bodies at Leeds Uni & Trinity

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Leeds University UCU strikers rally on Parkinson Steps, Wednesday 26th March – photo Iain Dalton

Well over 100 strikers and supporters rallied at Leeds Uni on the fifth day of strike action. Both Leeds Trinity and Leeds University have been taking part in the Margaret round of strike action over the #FourFights on pay, inequality, workload and casualisation with Leeds Uni also been part of the USS pension scheme dispute as well.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

Strikers at Leeds Uni were proud to maintained all 17 picket lines at entrances to the university through the terrible weather of the last week, with driving rain and snow, one picket commented “if they weren’t sure how serious we were about these issues, the picketing in sleet makes it really clear.”

Many of the pickets are on casualties working conditions. A Leeds Uni striker told me they felt lucky compared to others that they had a contract up to September! At Leeds Trinity one striker had had 7 jobs at one point just to make ends meet!

Others commented during the last strike they didn’t know if they were technically striking or not given that they were never sure whether they would be supposed to be teaching or not.

Leeds TUC delegates join meeting with UCU strikers at Leeds Uni and Leeds Trinity to discuss building wider support in the trade union movement for their dispute – photo courtesy of Neil Terry

Cutbacks have been a factor too, with the entire history department at Leeds Trinity cut mid- term with students forced to change courses. Cutbacks have meant a new layer of activists have had to come forward to rebuild the UCU branch and get over the 50% turnout threshold on their strike ballot on the second attempt, one of 14 universities joining the strike action nationally in this latest round of 14 days.

Whilst several strikers were optimistic that both sets of employers had asked for talks to take place this week, others were more cynical about whether even these 14 days would result in substantial concessions.

Therefore, several pickets had already begun to discuss what comes next after this round of strike action, especially as further action would likely to be during an exam period rather than regular teaching.

Socialist Party members have visited both Leeds University and Leeds Trinity during this round of action and will be continuing to mobilise support within the trade union movement locally, including Leeds TUC which has donated £250 to the hardship fund and is mobilising its members to join a planned demonstration through the city on 13th March.