Socialist Students supporting strikers at Leeds. Photo: Leeds SP

UCU members in 26 further education colleges and Unison members in 16 universities are taking part in weeks of strike action.


Pickets at Leeds University told us that Unison has had massive growth there since the previous round of strike action, with the branch now having over 1,500 members. One speaker at the rally reported how there was only two members of Unison in her team at the beginning of the year, now everyone is a member. Now admissions for their department grind to a halt when they call strike action.

A striker agreed with the demands in the Socialist, saying: ‘Yes, we need a new party’. They had joined Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, but now took away a dozen Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition leaflets to pass on to friends who had left Labour under Keir Starmer.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party


UCU strikers in Bristol. Photo: Roger Thomas

Socialist Party members joined a very lively picket at the University of Bristol. Unison members were on strike after being offered a measly 3% pay increase which, in real-terms, amounts to almost a 7% pay cut. One library worker I spoke to said that, while the official dispute was over pay, it was also about a lack of respect showed to staff by university management.

The picket line was followed by a rally outside the new vice-chancellor’s office. They earn almost £300,000 a year – over ten times the amount earned by the average university worker! Socialist Party member Roger Thomas brought solidarity from Bristol Trades Council, putting forward a strategy of coordinated strike action. This was extremely well-received by the audience and reflects the mood of most of the pickets I spoke to.

Amy Sage, Bristol Socialist Party


Carlisle College UCU picket. Photo:Alex Smeaton

The management of Carlisle FE College expected ‘minimal disruption’ from a handful of staff on strike. But they got a shock when they saw over 30 lecturers on the picket line on the first day, supported by members of the RMT and Unite Community. All the construction teachers were out, and most apprentices from these and other courses were told not to come in. There were twelve English and Maths lecturers on the picket line. These are the courses that bring the college most money. The vice-principal was left in the library desperately trying to teach both subjects!

Pickets handed out leaflets to the students explaining why they were striking – having lost 35% of real pay and 24,000 jobs since 2009 – which led to some students joining their teachers to give them their support for a 10% pay rise. Some took leaflets to hand out inside and many sported stickers in support.

Brent Kennedy, Carlisle Socialist Party