Around 150 staff and students joined a rally against cuts to Further Education colleges organised by UCU in Leeds today.
Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party
Organised to co-incide with a strikes at Bradford & Barnsley colleges, as well as a number of other FE college strikes across the country, the turnout was predominantly UCU – although speakers from Unite and the Yorks & Humber TUC gave solidarity greetings.
At Bradford College, where 140 jobs are threatened as part of £8m worth of cuts, picket lines were solid this morning with few if any lecturing staff reported to have crossed. One striker told us “It was fantastic to see 60-70 staff picketing this morning. But there’s real anger against these cuts – we had 280 staff turn up to a union meeting recently to discuss this.”
At Barnsley College strike action was called off as management agreed to a counter-proposal put forward by the union which involved no compulsory redundancies.
Leeds City College also faces £11 worth of cuts, with planned closures of sites at Meanwood, Morley and St Bartholemews in Armley (the latter saw it’s nursery closed last year). There are also plans to cut 146 staff, through cutting 312 full time jobs and replacing them with 166 lower paid jobs. This follows 100 jobs going last autumn as well.
Speakers at the rally noted that adult education is under threat, with 24% of the budget cuts by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills. Predominantly more working class students access this education, especially those who may have had difficulty engaging at school.
Given the huge attacks on education, those attending were gearing up to fight further attacks, with a further strike at Bradford College next wednesday and balloting amongst unions at Leeds City College underway.