UNISON members strike for fair pay on 16th and 17th July 2008

by Heena Modi on July 15, 2008

I don’t get it! Many members of this union keep everything going! They support children in schools, clean the parks, empty the bins, they open, close and maintain public buildings which WE use and so much more!

Most of these workers can’t afford to strike and lose 2 days worth of pay but how can they not? Their pay is so low they have to do something! Right? The wage increase is so minimal yet they do so much! The consultants, sales men and women and marketing staff, for example, do so little for us! So little for YOU! But then why are they are paid so much?

When will we wake up and pay those who we can’t do without, those who nurture the future a fair wage? How frustrated are you when your refuse isn’t collected? How hard is it knowing that your child needs support in class but the learning assistant who helps them so much isn’t it, for whatever reason. We need these members of staff! The same argument applies to NUT members who went on strike recently! We work so hard. Education and society has changed so much yet is this taken into account when our wages are debated?

A few members of staff in the school I work in are striking tomorrow and Thursday. They have been torn apart with the guilt of knowing the children, the school, the teachers need them. They have debated how they can manage without an income for those two days. They’ve tried to be objective and fair when thinking about how quickly they’d jump up to receive a pay increase but if they don’t do anything to get it how can that be fair? They’ve also considered how fair it would be to be in a union and use them when they need them but not support the Union when they need the help of their members. They’ve also discussed how the managerial staff may replace them with other members of staff, in which case, is the strike pointless or not?

It’s funny! I am a teacher and a NUT Rep. Thus I am aware that all schools, reps and members have been advised that we should be expected to do anything over and above our usual duties. We should not be asked to do the duties of a member who’s on strike. For this reason, when we striked recently, the managerial staff did not employ supply teachers to take their place, nor did they ask learning assistants or any ‘out of class’ staff to take our place. As a result the children in a few classes were told that they could not come in on the day of the strike but the rest of the school ran as usual.

For some reason it’s different this time. There are some children who need one to one support. Due to the strike they will be unsupported. So you’d think that the managerial staff would follow what they did when the teachers striked right? They’d say those children couldn’t come to school until Friday. No. I’ve been asked to abandon my timetable, I can do this because I’m out of class, and I’ve been asked to cover a child with special needs all day tomorrow.

Of course this goes against everything I mentioned above! Anyway I guess this is a side issue but it also highlights how managerial staff try and get around these inconvenient strikes.

The point of the strike is to disrupt. To show how needed the members of these unions are. To highlight the fact that we need a fair wage!

What do you think? Can you see where I’m coming from? Do you think it’s fair? Any ideas? Alternatives?

The text below is taken from the UNISON website.

UNISON members in local government in England, Northern Ireland and Wales have voted to take strike action on 16 and 17 July over the employers’ insulting pay “offer”.

They have been offered a pay rise of just 2.45%. Take inflation into account and it’s a pay CUT.

Add in 10 years of below-inflation pay rises and average household bills rocketing £1,300 in the last year alone, it’s no wonder we think this is the last straw.

It doesn’t add up.

We need YOU and all your workmates to join the action. This will send a clear message to your employers that they must improve their offer and show you the respect you deserve.

UNISON

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