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From The Socialist newspaper, 17 March 2010

Fighting the cuts at Leeds University

After several weeks of negotiations through ACAS, talks have once again broken down at Leeds university. Lecturers' union UCU members voted at an emergency meeting to reinstate strike action on 18 March if no progress is made in negotiations.

Iain Dalton, Yorkshire Socialist Students organiser

Previously lecturers had been set to take three days of strike action on 25 February and 2 and 4 March. This was called off at the last minute after the university gave concessions, including a promise of no compulsory redundancies until 2011 in the faculty of biological sciences and a new negotiating structure.

In an UCU statement, these concessions were heralded as 'groundbreaking'. But the reality is that university management have used the calling off of the strikes to gain breathing space and push industrial action nearer the Easter break when it will have much less impact.

In a letter to all staff and students, management have attempted to blame the union for the breakdown, accusing UCU of stalling the talks. Yet when UCU initially declared a dispute last year it took a month for the university management to meet them. The university pulling out of talks in February was one of the triggers for the initial strike dates.

When the university ignored the new negotiating procedures they had just agreed to, this led staff to take strike action.

On 3 March university management released a document outlining proposed changes in the school of English, without consulting any of the trade unions - a clear breach of the agreement they had made only the week before. Socialist Students, and others in Leeds University Against Cuts (LUAC), will be mobilising in support of lecturers.

LUAC was already planning a protest on 18 March as part of the day of action called by Socialist Students. This is to protest at the announcement by the Higher Education Funding Council for England about where the 915 million in higher education cuts will fall.

This is now being transformed into a solidarity demonstration with UCU strikers.

Carnival Against the Cuts

Thursday 18 March

12 noon, Parkinson steps, Leeds University

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