On 24th April, lecturers, teachers and civil servants took strike action against the governments policy of pay restraint for public sector workers, below we report on the strike rallies in Leeds and Bradford.
Over 500 strikers, students, school students and members of the public braved the rain to hear speakers outside the city art gallery on Thursday morning. Speakers included UCU national officials, Pat Murphy, NUT NEC and Jane Aitchison, PCS DWP Group president, Unison and school students and young teachers.
Jane Aitchison (a Socialist Party member) spoke of being proud of standing shoulder to shoulder with so many other public sector workers in the biggest public sector pay strike in a decade. She said that for her workers some of whom earn a mere 24p above the National minimum wage this was not just about keeping up living standards but was a fight against poverty pay.
With over half of PCS members hit by the abolition of the 10p tax rate it was an insult to tell these staff that they could make it up with in work benefits. Jane said ” My members work hard they shouldn’t have to rely on benefits, they should be paid a decent wage”
Jane also paid tribute to the teachers saying ” there is no need to apologise for disrupting the education of children in this country – they will have learned a very valuable lesson today watching their teachers standing up for themselves and for what is right and what solidarity means – sticking together to win.”
Over 300 people packed into a conference room at valley parade football ground to hear speakers from NUT, UCU, PCS and UNISON.
Ian Murch ( NUT) spoke about he success of he strike in Bradford and the huge number of teachers joining the NUT since the strike action had been called.
Rob Williams, PCS NEC, and a Socialist Party member, spoke powerfully about how public sector workers were the victims of inflation and not the cause of it.
The overwhelming majority of those there were young teachers who had never been involved in strike action before, one of whom spoke passionately about the need for the campaign to continue.