Why I Will strike and support my Union

The NASUWT and NUT are striking “to defend teachers and the education service against government attacks which include:

  1. pay
  2. pensions
  3. workload pressures
  4. conditions
  5. inspections
  6. job security”

That is a pretty big list. I am a union member in a region due to go out on 17/1/0/13. In a brief response to this list I would say:

  1. We are in times of austerity. I would not consider this a reason to be striking at the moment
  2. The amount of money that all of us are losing because of changes to pensions is huge. We should definitely be making a strong stand on this. the loss of a day’s pay is nothing compared to how much we will all be losing over the following decades. Get on your union website and fill in their spreadsheets if you haven’t already to see how much you stand to lose
  3. Please see previous posts of mine on this
  4. Those academies and their ‘open 51 weeks of the year’ scare me. We should be ensuring our conditions are not damaged through the “academisation” of schools. We cannot work any harder or longer. No one who has not taught a full day in any KS1-5 school does not know how draining it is.
  5. OFSTED is an awful system but i wouldn’t strike about it (for an excellent insight into what to do with OFSTED, see Tom Bennett’s article in the TES)
  6. Fortunately I have seen little evidence of this happening in the schools in my local area. So i feel unable to comment on this issue.

Add those together and I support the action of the 2 unions and will be taking action this month and after half term if necessary as well. If we don’t take action then the government will know they can treat us how they like in the future and who know where that could lead

However there is a stronger and vitally more important reason I shall be striking.

I am a member of the union. The union has taken a legal and democratic vote and the decision was clearly to strike. IT IS MY DUTY AS A UNION MEMBER TO SUPPORT THIS. If I don’t stand with my union how can I reasonably expect them to take action on my behalf? When I had a horrible and baseless and stupid and possibly career ending accusation made against me, it was my union who sent along a legal representative to meetings and assured me over and over again that they would assist me. MY UNION SUPPORTS ME SO I SUPPORT THEM. We have to act together. Even if I had voted against striking, because the union as a whole had voted for it, I would still join them in walking out.

The philosophy of unions has been unfashionable ever since the 1970s when press and government attacks on them were so successful. To stand up for and stand up with your fellow human being is seen as a laughable and even naive action to take. I disagree. To take action for the common and greater good is exactly the sort of things I want both my pupils to grow up doing and the society I live in to be like. If you don’t think in that way then I cannot understand why you pay your union fees.

“I kept the faith and I kept voting
Not for the iron fist but for the helping hand
For theirs is a land with a wall around it
And mine is a faith in my fellow man.”

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