Leeds City College UCU joins the strike wave

Over 50 pickets outside Leeds City College marked the latest group of workers to join the strike wave as UCU members at the college took strike action for the first time in many years.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

The strikes on Monday 5th and Wednesday 7th June were co-ordinated with strikes at three other colleges in Yorkshire, Bradford College, Kirklees College and fellow part of Luminate group, Harrogate College, with a further Monday and Wednesday strike this week.

Leeds City College staff have hardly had any pay rises for years, with many recent years having just 1% or even 0%! As well as UCU’s Further Education disputes calling for a 10% pay rise, colleges to become Foundation Living Wage employers, action on tackling spiralling workloads and supporting staff’s professional development.

Whilst management say they have no money, it’s clear colleges aren’t poverty stricken, new college buildings have been constructed and college management salaries have skyrocketed, with the principal at Leeds City College on over £250,000 take home pay a year! Strikers at Bradford College have told Socialist Party members visiting the picket line similar things.

As one of the UCU strikers at Leeds City College told us “Initially I think some staff members felt uneasy about striking on GCSE exam days as we all care about our students. However, for over a decade staff have seen their wages decrease in real terms due to inflation. We have food cupboards at work, essentially mini food banks, for people who are struggling to buy essentials whilst we have a principal on around £250,000 a year. When you look at it like that I think it has made everyone realise it is time to make a stand.”

At the strike rally it was reported that Leeds City College management had moved in negotiations on workload, from total intransigence to bring prepared to cap hours, but at too high a level to be acceptable to UCU members. They still refuse to budge on pay.

Socialist Party members have been mobilising support amongst students for these strikes. At Bradford College Socialist Students have run stalls with petions demanding college management give an inflationary pay rise to staff, as well as flyposting around the campus to show staff there is student support for them, as well attending the picket line ourselves, and will aim to do the same in Leeds.

We will be hosting an open meeting about the college strikes and the indefinite strike action about to begin at Uni of Leeds following 100% pay deductions during their marking boycott, on Monday 19th June, 7pm at the Adelphi pub in Leeds.

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