Strike while the iron’s hot

With me working away from home until Christmas, the wife is facing a daily battle to get through the first term of her photography degree.

Her talent for it is undeniable, as is her enthusiasm for the subject. The only force working against her is time.

I’m away so she has to work around school hours. Last week our son fell poorly and she was called away ten minutes into a lecture. The danger is that if she misses a certain percentage of these lessons, she automatically fails the module, despite all her efforts with the coursework that has her working all post-kids-bedtime hours at home.

And now, of course, we have the teachers’ strike. Bang in the middle of next week. For me to come home would mean losing a day’s pay and paying about the same again on travel. Thanks, teachers. You could have at least chosen a Monday or Friday so we – and the rest of the working nation – might have found it easier to take an extended weekend. But no, slap bang in the middle of the week you go.

Ah, but that’s the point, said one of my facebook friends as I took to the social networking sites for a rant. Well, yes, but here is my problem with the teachers’ strike.

It’s not going to work. One day off to express their dissatisfaction with their lowered pensions? Pah – the government couldn’t care less. They’ve got more important things to think about, I’m afraid. And other public sector workers striking on the same day merely clouds the issue.

You see, I support the teachers to an extent. They do an amazing job and deserve more financial recompense. But why are they diluting their fight by striking alongside other public sector workers. Not good PR really – no-one thinks the pen pushers and jobsworths in council offices around the country need their pension pots boosted.

It smacks of no-one in the teachers’ unions really knowing what they’re doing and certainly not having the guts to put up a real fight to help the people who put them in well-salaried work.

What they need is another Bob Crow. Oh goodness, don’t wish another Bob Crow on us, noted a different facebook friend.

Now love him or hate him – and I suspect most of the general public hate him – he got the people he represents what they wanted: a whopping great pay packet. Way too much for what the job entails, many thought, but as a regular tube user, I for one feel safer on a train knowing the driver is completely happy with his salary. Shortly after achieving this coup, Bob Crow hinted he’d happily rise to the challenge for the nurses next. Goodness knows why every union, never mind the teachers, wasn’t clambering to get him after that.

I can’t say for certain, but were Mr Crow to come in and throw his weight around the NUT, he wouldn’t mess about trying to secure pensions for what is, for many teachers, 20 or 30 or 40 years away. No, he’d fight and fight for upping teachers’ pay now. Where is the sense in this pensions fight when the whole pension pot could collapse under this government’s administration or any one in the future?  At best, it is battling for the unknown, at worst it’s battling for nothing. Bob Crow wouldn’t have that. He’d fight for something.

Like the ladies depicted in the film Made In Dagenham. Now they did have a cause: equal pay for women. But crucially, they were prepared to go the whole hog to win their fight. The 187 women downed tools and very soon the 55,000 strong factory had to cease production. They had to survive on minimal strike pay, made all the harder because their husbands, mostly employed by the factory too, had also been put out of work by their actions. Their relationships and homes were all put at risk, but was this enough to send them skulking back to work? Of course not. They fought on and won, changing history in the process. Incredible.

If the teachers really believe in what they are striking for, why stop at one day? A 24-hour strike is just a duvet day with a cause. Why not go the whole hog and stop working until the government meet your demands?

Blimey, another facebook friend would no doubt say if I posted up this idea too, first he’s championing Bob Crow and now he’s suggesting the teachers close the schools indefinitely.

But us parents are resourceful. We’d band together and work out some rota or other to sort the childcare, employers would have to be understanding and anyway the government would eventually be forced to act. Sure, in the process the teachers might lose valuable income, struggle to pay their mortgages, cause tension in their own family life, like the Made In Dagenham ladies, but it’d be worth it, right? Right? Are you with me?


You’ll stick with your one-day strike, will you?

OK, well, good luck with that. But I daresay I’ll be moaning about the exact same thing in 12 months’ time.

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