Leeds and Yorkshire: Teachers set to step up strike action UPDATED

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Parents in Leeds are being warned of more disruption to schools as union officials threaten ‘intensive strike action’.

After yesterday’s rally in the city centre, a teachers’ union official has confirmed more nationally-co-ordinated industrial action could be taken as soon as next month.

Teachers take to the streets of Leeds city centre.

Teachers take to the streets of Leeds city centre.

Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) Leeds branch, Patrick Murphy, told the YEP: “The strike yesterday was successful but shifting Michael Gove will take more than that.

“If the next strike doesn’t work we will ask members how much more they are up for.

“In my mind we will need more intensive strike action.”

No date has yet been confirmed but Mr Murphy anticipated it would be the end of November. He added: “Despite how difficult it is, we can have an impact and we can win.”

Yesterday (Oct 1) a sea of people, pickets and banners dominated Leeds city centre as hundreds of teachers took to the streets to protest over pay, pensions and workload.

Crowds chanted as they marched down The Headrow, Briggate and Vicar Lane before taking part in a rally at Victoria Gardens.

More than 200 schools across the city were closed or partially closed by the regional strike launched by the National Union of Teachers and NASUWT.

Leeds is also set to be hit by a national teacher strike planned by the two unions for later this year.

Allerton High School teacher Jane Neal, who picketed with colleagues at the school in north Leeds before attending the rally, said : “We are so angry.

“When I signed up for teaching 25 years ago, my contract was very positive. But Michael Gove [Education Secretary] is messing with that contract and isn’t giving me a say in it.

“It is not a job for life anymore and that is not good enough.

“We’re worried about our future and the students’ future. We are looking at a retirement age of 68 which is just not manageable.”

Speaking to the crowds, Patrick Murphy, secretary of the NUT Leeds branch, said: “We don’t strike lightly. We do it because we have to. Ninety per cent of schools in Leeds are closed or partially closed today. This could have been averted if Michael Gove had sat down with us and acted reasonably but he hasn’t.

“If we don’t fight, we will most certainly lose and will be walked all over. We are standing up for ourselves, for parents, children and schools and the people whose only hope for an escape and a future is education.”

Paul Brennan, deputy director of children’s services at Leeds City Council, said: “If further strike action is announced, we will work with headteachers and governing bodies to try and minimise disruption to families.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “It is disappointing the NUT and National Association of School Masters and the Union of Women Teachers are striking over government measures to allow heads to pay good teachers more.”

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