Striking teachers from around West Yorkshire gathered in central Leeds today to protest against the Tory’s draconian education reforms. Faced with real term budget cuts of between 9-14% over the next three years, the destruction of national terms and conditions, and forced academisation, those present were in a militant mood.
James Ellis, Leeds Socialist Party and NUT striker
Around 500-600 people gathered in Victoria gardens including teachers, lecturers, support staff, parents and students. The demonstration marched through central Leeds to a rally point and heard from a variety of speakers.
Highlights included an impassioned defence of creative subjects in schools, solidarity from the UCU, and a classroom teacher declaring that “we are teachers, trade unionists, and we simply must win this”.
The last speaker, one of the region’s NEC members, confirmed that future action was being planned, but there was no specific discussion of strategy going forward. The NUT nationally must come up with a clear timeline of escalating strike action, coordinated with other unions including the Junior Doctors who today rejected the governments contract offer, with a view to defeating the already weakened Tory government.
A petition calling for the labour movement to organise a conference in defence of Corbyn gathered over 100 signatures in an hour – an important sign of the mood on a day when Labour deputy leader, Tom Watson, is meeting with union leaders to try and persuade them to withdraw their thus far solid backing of Corbyn.
There was a good turn out in Leeds and a definite willingness to continue with future action. The NUT needs to set a timetable of future action to defeat the governments white paper and work within the labour movement to organise a general strike and bring down the Tories before they can do further damage to the young people’s education.