Thousands march through Leeds city centre during national day of strike action

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THOUSANDS of public sector workers marched through Leeds city centre today during a national day of strike action.

The majority of schools in Leeds and Wakefield were closed today as teachers joined teaching assistants and council workers in the mass walk out.

PIC: Simon Hulme

PIC: Simon Hulme

Leeds City Council’s website listed 149 of the city’s 254 schools as closed or partially closed.

In Wakefield, at least 71 schools were closed.

Council workers are involved in national dispute over a pay offer of one per cent.

The NUT is involved in a long-running dispute over claimed excessive workloads, pensions, pay and changes to the education system.

Among the strikers demonstrating in Leeds was Diane Harold, 50, of Wortley, who works as a senior learning mentor at Priesthorpe High School in Morley.

She said: “Unfortunately the government is trying to put the squeeze on lowest paid workers. They can’t control the private sector, but they can control the public sector. We need to take a stand and show the government we can’t take anymore pay freezes and low pay offers.”

Also on strike was Jane Neal, 49, an English teacher at Allerton High School in Alwoodley, Leeds.

She said: “I have been teaching for 26 years and I feel more angry than I have ever been in my life.

“The future generations of teachers will be working longer for lower pay, I think it’s very unfair and it won’t be a job for life. The younger generation will leave after about five years because they will have no option, it just won’t pay to be a teacher.”

More than 3,000 National Union of Teacher (NUT) members were expected to walk out in Leeds and Wakefield as part of a national day of action.

More than 13,000 Leeds city council workers who are members of unions Unison, the GMB and Unite, were expected to be on strike.

Also taking action are members of the Public and Commercial Servics Union and the Fire Brigades Union.

Across the country, up to 1.5 million workers are expected to take part in the wave of action.

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