As someone who came of age during the Thatcher Apocalypse, I can hardly profess surprise that many of my colleagues aren’t supporting the strike today. Disappointed, of course. Ashamed, yes. Surprised, no.
I was talking to a colleague about this not long ago, and we had the same conversation before the last strike. Here we are – teachers who are “well over 30” striking in support of our profession, which is being deskilled, undermined, fucked around – while younger colleagues, especially those “well under 30” lower their heads and come in to work, complaining that they “can’t afford” to lose a day’s pay, or that striking “won’t do any good.”
Well, here’s a big fuck you from me to both of those statements. I can’t afford to lose a day pay, any more than I could afford not to have a pay rise for the past three years, or to increase my pension contributions, or to work for longer before I can retire. I can’t afford any of those things. I can’t afford to fuck around with admin instead of, you know, teaching. I can’t afford to keep up with Gove’s little announcements, the ever-moving goalposts, and the weasel announcements sneaked out in the middle of Olympic ceremonies, because he actually does know that what he’s doing is actually evil.
And you know what really won’t do any good? Doing nothing. Apart from the obvious fact that this weak government has U-turned about 65 times under pressure from various professions and protesters, doing nothing opens up a path to a very dark future for younger teachers. A future in which their pay and hours are set arbitrarily, locally. You may dig your head teacher now, but what happens when s/he is replaced with a complete cunt? What happens if your school converts to an academy, and some Friend of Gove’s comes in with his management qualification, and starts to try to skim money for his/her own £200,000 salary? What happens when a school declares that, because your class of drongoes didn’t pass their GCSEs, your pay increase won’t be happening?
A day’s pay is insignificant when compared to 25 years of being underpaid.
And if you really can’t see that, then you probably deserve the future that’s coming down the tracks at you.
As for the protection your union gives, wave it goodbye. The endgame for Gove and co is to smash the teaching unions, just as Thatcher smashed the miners’ union and the car workers’ unions. Smashing, right? And when a student makes a false accusation against you because they don’t want to do their homework, good luck dealing with that, with no union. When your classroom is too cold to teach in, or the roof leaks, or they tell you you have to (a) stay at work till 5 p.m., and (b) work Saturday mornings because (c) parents want free babysitting, good luck dealing with that without a union. Good luck dealing with a head teacher who doesn’t like your face.
I’m 51 this year, and I’ve got just 10 years or so of this shit to put up with. But you? You’re 25, you’ve got a young family, a big mortgage; or you’re still living at home and can’t afford a mortgage, or to get married, or to have kids, not yet.
Good luck with your career.
And, I tell you this. When the OFSTED are in, or when the pressure is on, don’t imagine that we’re all in this together. Solidarnosc, comrade.
- Scabs (teachingbattleground.wordpress.com)