LEEDSIn Leeds, 95% of schools were closed and over 60% of council staff were on strike. Unions provided a small number of exemptions to staff in critical services protecting vulnerable people in life threatening situations.Pickets were out all over the town centre and beyond (“I’ve had that leaflet thanks, you lot are everywhere”, said one smiling passer-by) , with 70 at Cross Green refuse depot and a determined line of mental health workers at Seacroft Hospital.
Forty to fifty people – mainly women workers with a roving band of UNISON retired members and a couple of Heads of Commissioning - picketed the various entrances to Merrion House and the Civic Hall, which house the head offices of Adults and Children’s Social Care and other central services. Scabs, largely from demoralised, re-organised and de-organised sections like HR and OD, scurried in with their heads down, apologising. We turned back the post ….. and a vital Xerox paper delivery!
Linguists on strike in LeedsThe Leeds TUC rally at Woodhouse Moor drew several thousand strikers from all the striking unions. As the march wound into town, thousands more students, lecturers, council workers, teachers, pupils and civil servants joined, with estimates of well over 7000 at the city centre rally in Victoria Gardens, making this the biggest Leeds demo in decades.
The feeling on the picket lines was clear: we were on strike today for every working class person’s future. We know class war when we see it and we’re not interested in negotiating reductions in jobs, pensions and services. This was a fantastic start and a springboard for re-building shop-floor union organisation. Leeds UCU has called a cross-union meeting for activists on Monday at 6.00pm in Broadcasting House to discuss how to escalate the action.
N30 Rally in LeedsJohn from West Yorkshire SWAN added: "As a second year Social Work student who also works part-time in the NHS I see first hand the affect of cuts now on services and staff and what I will be working within when I qualify. To suggest it is fair to top slice public sector pensions to swell the Treasury coffers and make workers make up the looting by paying more, working longer and getting less is ludicrous. Given the pressure on social care and health care staff, working until 67/68 or whatever age it ends up being is a non-starter, service users and staff will both suffer. There was good student support at both Leeds Universities, hundreds of leaflets were handed out and many students came to the rally."
Sue Talbot & John McDermott (West Yorkshire SWAN)
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Social Work Action Network (SWAN)c/o Iain FergusonSchool of Social ScienceUniversity of the West of ScotlandPaisleyPA1 2BE
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