I am a teacher. You may have heard that the National Union of Teachers (NUT) asked their members to vote about whether they want to strike about our pay or not.
The vote was national and although individuals may have voted against striking, the majority are backing the idea. Read more about this on http://www.teachers.org.uk/story.php?id=4171
The date of the strike has been set for 24th April 2008.
This sounds simple doesn’t it? I found out that it isn’t simple at all!
We held a meeting about whether the teachers in the school I work in should strike or not. Well, for a start, all the teachers do not belong to the same union so they cannot all strike.
If we strike we lose out on our wages for that day but it’s in the name of increasing our wages so that we can afford to teach! The pay is too low and the demands are too high!
- So as a school, everyone will not be striking because they do not all belong to the same union. This can come across as some teachers are striking and others are not but this may not be the case. It may be as simple as their union is not supporting this action.
- Personal issues, such as, difficulties around arranging childcare can influence whether a teacher who is also a parent strikes or not.
- Some heads will not undermine another union’s action. Thus supply teachers may not be employed to teach the classes affected by the staff who are striking. The head can redistribute the children in other classes or send a letter saying that they should not come to school on that day.
- If the school is a first and middle school combined; there are issues surrounding who else is striking. For example if many teachers in the middle school are striking but only one teacher in the first school belongs to the NUT. If they strike alone, all the children in first school will be in except the class who has a teacher in the NUT.
- If the teacher is an Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) they may not feel as if they can partake in strikes at the present moment in time.
- Ironically, the loss of a day’s pay is an issue that prevents some teachers striking over this issue about our pay!
- Others will strike regardless of how they voted in the ballot because if we are members of a union and we want them to support us when we are in (alleged) sticky situations, surely we should support them when they need it? Especially when a national ballot has taken place and the majority favour a strike?
Is it an expectation that you should strike if your union suggests it? You pay to be a member of the union so why should you if you don’t agree with this action for whatever reason. The union will support its members unconditionally so this isn’t an issue but is it fair to expect unconditional support and not give it back? If the NUT encouraged striking often the argument would be different. If it was over a small thing it would again be different! If they did not ask all its members to vote, it would be different! However, this is not the case.
Do you have an alternative view? If so please share it with me?