Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Striking Teachers.....why I support their action.

I'm a bit bored of the fluffy posts I normally write...not that anyone ever finds them riveting reads!

Tomorrow, thousands of teachers from the UK will withdraw their labour. The streets will be awash with mums and their kids. The parks will be packed to the gunnel's, and the whole of society will crumble for one day. It doesn't matter that the weather is blissful, or that life is sweet...someone, somewhere will moan. For many this will make uncomfortable reading and I don't apologise for my thoughts.

The NUT state:
  • Teachers will loose on average £250,000 over the length of their retirement
  • Teachers will be expected to work until they are 68
  • Teachers will be expected to contribute at least a further £100 each month to cover shortfalls

The impact of this on our childrens future is in the hands of the people we have elected into power.  Summer of discontent? I don't think so, I think it will be a decade of discontent.  Money is in short for many except the uber rich.

BUT education is a fundamental right whether you are rich or poor.
Every child deserves the right to be educated to a standard and that standard should and must be excellent. For our children to receive that education we should and must reward our teachers accordingly.  This is not only happening within the public sector, the private sector too are being hammered over pension rights. Surely, if you have paid into a scheme for years the "powers that be" have an obligation to continue and honour that contract?  It seems to me, that companies and businesses countrywide are using their lack of good judgement to distort the truths in the ineptitude of  their management teams!

I pay for my children's education, because I believe they have the right to a great education.  I pay for all three (buy 2 get the third free!), and it is worth every penny.  As Michael Jackson said "Children are our future" (sorry...corny, I know!) they always have been and always will be. We're lucky in that we can afford it, but there are thousands who can't and they should be assured that teachers are still going into the profession will not be hampered by a bleak financial future, because this is what will happen. Potential teachers will be discouraged from entering teaching and will chase the money into a more lucrative profession. 

Public sector workers are standing up for the right to a decent pension.  They are using their rights as a union member to protest about the way they are being treated....the only way they are able to draw attention to their plight and be taken seriously.

So why do the general public berate the unions?
Because it inconveniences them?
Because they are fundamentally against the rights of the "workers"?

For years now, the unions are being beaten in submission by the very people they are helping.  Collective bargaining is the only way many companies can negotiate change.  Yes, of course businesses are in the business of many money...but it should not be to the detriment of their workforce, yet many companies can only save money to pay their shareholders by ensuring that their workforce is exploited and disadvantaged. .  Take from the bottom to put at the top! Yet you rarely see changes to enhanced services that these company offer.   Personally, I think it is immoral.  Bill Morris (TGWU) was instrumental in negotiating the minimum wage.  Unions are the voice of people who can not talk for themselves, so why the need to beat them up?  Don't they need support? Many feel that it is the unions themselves that are corrupt, but there is a need for unions and without them, workers worldwide will see a dwindling responsibility from the very companies they work for.

Unions and the private sector is in melt down.  Government officials are crying out for reform.  Recently the RMT brought about a ballot for strike action.  The RMT are concerned about government intervention and the safety of the Rail stating

"These reviews could lead to a highly detrimental impact on Britain's railways including the break up and sale of Network Rail, longer franchises which have greater flexibility to cut services and a significant dilution of safety standards"
But not only that, workers are being were being disciplined and dismissed for actions brought about by the behaviours of the company that they work for.  Fortunately, London Underground, saw sense and reinstated one of their drivers...but only after the ET (employment Tribunal) found that he was unfairly dismissed.

Private company, British Airways recently brought about an end to the 2010 summer of discontent with cabin crew accepting a deal negotiated by their union. Cabin Crew went on strike for 22 days for imposed changes to their terms and conditions.  In the process over 18 staff were dismissed, with over 80 suspended. Forced changes to their pensions and closure of their pension ensures that they are working well beyond the age of 65. Do you really want to see a hostess at the age of 70 severing you a drink?

The press and media coverage in the run up to all of the strikes are very rarely balanced. Both RMT members and Unite members were subject to berating by the public. Yet these people are passionate about their jobs and have a right to voice their concerns and doubts, especially when their concerns are to do with their future. 


Strangely enough, I'm in the process of writing a book (fictional) about Union Busting and the effect on workers and workers rights. It will be interesting to see how all this pans out....okay rant over!!!

P.S. As I write, both the Government and unions are debating the success of the strike.  The Government believe that the strike has not affected many, with a different perspective from the passengers coming through UK borders.  At Heathrow, passengers were complaining of delays up to 2 hours and "chaos" at border control.

2 comments:

  1. It's okay to write a serious post every once in a while Mummyattheschoolgate! It's good to get the brain cells ticking!!

    My three boys are in state education (although one at uni now) and I'm afraid I despair of the quality of teaching - a lot of the problems are the result of the curriculum but there is also, in my experience, a huge amount of substandard teaching. Yet I entirely agree with you - education is the singular most important thing we can do for our children (except give love of course!)and we must keep and attract the best teachers into the profession with decent pay and pensions - then perhaps we can fire the "not-so-good" and "it's great for a second income" teachers! Hurrah!! Until then I continue to sink into despair when I see my kid's books and wonder what happened to teaching as a vocation....

    My father, was a primary headmaster for over 30 years- I think he would probably cry if he could see my children's books:(

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  2. I agree with everything you've said, Jane. All children deserve an excellent education, whether it's paid for or not. If they continue in this vein then they will not attract the top candidates to the profession. I can understand your despair (I have read your post, grrrr!) and there is still substandard teaching, otherwise kids would not be leaving secondary education illiterate. I'm not sure whether the blame lies in teaching or the fact that teachers are epected to "put out the fires". Who's at fault? The LEB, the government or the schools? If the standards are the same across the board then why the disparity?

    My friends often complain about the unfairness, and how mine are getting a better education (one friend being a labour councillor can't understand how I could do it!!)...but if things arn't going to plan, I can scream and shout because I pay the piper. I shouldn't have to, but I can. I can understand why parents do what they can to get their children into the best schools..but it's a terrible shame for those who go with the flow and end up in failing schools.

    Ohhh...I could go on and bore you all day with this!

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