A sea of pickets greeted commuters along Woodhouse Lane on the north of the city centre as UCU members picketed entrances to 3 of the cities 4 Higher Educations institutions which lay along that road.
Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party
As Socialist Party & Socialist Students members toured the picket lines, we found that pickets were in a bouyant mood, in sharp contrast to the overcast weather. Throughout the morning pickets had grown, and noticeably a number of post-graduate students who are often employed to teach on a casualised basis joined the picket lines.
At lunch time around 150-200 joined a march and rally into the centre of the city, with a noticeable delegation of Unison members in Higher Education joining the march who are also currently balloting over the same pay offer. Speakers from the UCU branches on strike, including the UCU anti-casualisation NEC rep, Vicky Blake, outlined that as well as striking because of the decline of pay in relation to costs of living, there were also big issues over the gener pay gap in academia as well as the rapant usage of casualised working conditions that especially affect newcomers into academia.
Sarah Gillborn, Leeds Beckett SU Welfare Officer also spoke in support of the strike and bringing solidarity from students. Leeds Beckett SU’s student council recently unanimously passed a motion, moved by Socialist Students member Amy Cousens to back the staff trade unions in this dispute.