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Strikers marching to rally at City Square

Mass picketing retured to Leeds today, as evidenced by the scenes at the three Leeds universities today, as well several college campuses as UCU members in HE and FE institutions took strike action over pension, pay and jobs, all of which are threatened by the coalitions cuts agenda.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

Leeds University lecturers were out again in force, with not just students supporting them, but also delivery men bringing coca-cola and newspapers refused to cross the picket lines. Although Leeds University Union Communication and Internal Affairs  officer, Rachel Wenstone did support the pickets and speak at the demonstration, her replacement next year, Leeds Uni Labour Students chair Mark Sewards, declined to even speak to staff as he snuck across the picket line.

At Leeds Met, the much better link between the Leeds Met Against Cuts and the Students Union was shown by the wall of pledges of support on the entrance to the library as well as that one of the sabbaticals there was leading the calls via a megaphone for a boycott of any lectures that were still taking place. As well as large pickets around the city campus, over 30 picketed the Headingley campus too.

At Leeds Trinity, 25 pickets were joined by members of the Socialist Students-led Leeds Trinity Students Against Cuts who reported a much quieter campus than usual. Leeds City College saw picket lines mounted at Horsforth, Thomas Danby, Park Lane and Technology campuses, whilst the Art College was also picketed.

A small but determined picket was mounted at Joseph Priestley College’s Morley campus, but to great effect with most teaching cancelled for the day, and discussion on the picket lines with admin staff who were overwhelmingly supportive as well as students who commented on the placards that not only called to stop cuts to jobs but to the recently scrapped EMA too. At the Beeston campus, 10 pickets stood outside the main entrance which was festooned with placards, particularly highlighting cuts to ESOL which several striking tutors there teach that subject.

After a march down from Leeds University picked up pickets at Leeds Met and the Art College, chanting angrily as they passed the banks in Park Row, a 300 strong rally assembled at City Square. The rally not only included those from Leeds but also from Wakefield, Hull and Skipton colleges as well as some from Bradford University and was addressed by strikers, their student supporters and local officials from UNISON and the NUT. Socialist Party members Ian Pattison and Alicia Blackett addressed the crowd, speaking on behalf of Leeds Against the Cuts and Leeds University Against Cuts respectively, in particularly highlighting the mood that now exists over the governments attacks on pensions that could be united in a public sector general strike that could topple this rotten Con-Dem coalition and their failed austerity attacks.

Thanks to Hannah Bastow, Ian Pattison, Alicia Blackett, Andy Smith, Tanis Belsham-Wray, Josepeh Muller, Rob Harries, Michael Johnson, Steph Maston, Jay McInnes, Ryan Preston and Dan Dearden whose briefs overviews of the pickets they supported helped prepare this article.

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