Should teachers be allowed to strike?

Ok so yesterday it was announced that the NUT and NASUWT are going to be striking in the North West at the end of this month over pay and conditions, meaning that some pupils will have lessons disrupted. This is one of a series of walkouts scheduled to take place. So today I’m going to answer the question: should teachers be allowed to strike?

Now I’m all for pushing for more money in the profession as I believe teaching is an underpaid profession when you consider how important it is as without it, we won’t have any doctors, lawyers, engineers or anything else. We would just be a population of people on benefits, which will not be an economy, it’ll just be one huge bank in one huge debt, a bit like an Icelandic bank.

But does this mean that teachers have to strike? I have no respect for any teacher who thinks striking is the way forward, for a number of reasons. One is because they don’t realise who the most important people are in the profession, and that is the children they teach. I find it absolutely selfish that these teachers would rather walk out on their children just because of their own issues. Other issues include parents, especially those who work. What happens to those? Well they either have to arrange for a relative to look after the children or take time off work themselves, both of which cost money and cause issues relating to household income. Another factor to consider is the reputation of the profession. We don’t want to be known as a profession of troublemakers, we would rather be a respected profession. I bet a lot of these teachers buy expensive things such as branded food or expensive clothes. If they budgeted better they wouldn’t need to complain about so much.

Personally if it were down to me, any teacher who goes on strike should be sacked, and replaced with people who are in the profession for the right reasons, ie they care about the future generations and want to make a real difference to society as a whole. That’s what I signed up for, and what I intend to do.

What do you think? Should teachers be allowed to strike or should they care more about the children they teach?


5 thoughts on “Should teachers be allowed to strike?

  1. Given that all industries have customers / service-users who would be affected by employee strike action, do you think it is reasonable for anyone to strike? If the government demonstrates itself to be uninterested in negotiation and committed to a reduction in teachers’ pay and conditions, how would you suggest teachers go about protecting their p&c’s? Does entering the profession ‘for the right reasons’ mean that you should be willing to work for minimum wage (and would you be)? Do you feel that serving children and protecting your own p&c’s is an either / or choice?

    1. Hi AG, some interesting questions there. Thanks for commenting 🙂

      I don’t think striking is the right course of action in any industry, especially as in some cases depending on the union, it could constitute a break in service, which means they could lose their state pension. We don’t know if the government has demonstrated this lack of interest, although I think it’s obvious that I’m not exactly a fan of Michael Gove’s.

      In terms of p&c’s, I don’t think money is everything. I’ve grown up in a world with little or no money. I’m now 21 years old and the most money I’ve ever seen at any one time has been when my student loan comes in, and that quickly disappears when my rent on my accommodation is due. But I get by, albeit living on Sainsbury’s value brand food instead of luxury items, but I live a healthy life.

      Would I work for minimum wage? If I’m perfectly honest, yes I would. As I stated above, I don’t believe money is the answer for everything. I went into teaching because I love the profession, not because I’m motivated by money. If I wanted a load of money, I would have gone into a different profession.

      I don’t believe it should be a choice between the job and p&c’s. Of course in an ideal world we want both to be present. But in real terms, we have been hit by a long hard recession and things are going to be tough for the next few years. But do you not think that it is worth the risk to take lower p&c’s now, and prepare for a more longer term future? I mean I’m at the start of my career so I can look that far, although I appreciate this isn’t the case for everyone.

      I just think that this striking is so short-term and ridiculous. It is disrupting the education of the children, which is in fact our job, so it gives us a bad name, and I believe it could discourage children from joining what is, in my opinion, one of the most rewarding jobs in the world

      Mr M

      1. For me, MG has absolutely demonstrated himself to be uninterested in negotiation, and through removal of national pay scales and attempts to increase child:staff ratios / extend school hours has also shown himself to be thoroughly committed to reduction in p&c’s.

        You may be willing to work for minimum wage now, but this might change when you find you want to buy a house / support a family. For me, minimum wage would not cover rent and i live in a shared house with 5 other earners. Other question of course – especially in expensive / high-earning cities like London, but actually anywhere – is why *should* we be willing? As you say, teaching is a hugely important profession, and committed teachers work extremely hard. If others are earning £100,000s, why shouldn’t teachers take home £30,000?

        I also think your option of taking a cut in p&c’s now in the hope of a better tomorrow is a false one. As in any industry, employers have no real interest in improving workers’ p&c’s unless they have to, and unions are a large part of the reason why we have been able to achieve the standard of living we have today.

        I understand your point about the economic climate, and I do lose hope when I see union leaders arguing for enormous pay *increases*, but while I might be able to accept a temporary freeze, pay cuts or a marketisation of the industry would be hugely difficult to reverse.

        I also don’t think my own memories of my teachers has been in any way sullied by the days they were out on strike – or the lunchtimes they probably spent in the pub! (But maybe that’s just me 😉

      2. Then the government needs to be hitting the bigger earners harder.

        The thing I hate the most about the unions is what they are actually campaigning for. They aren’t actually providing any clear cut alternative solutions, just saying ‘Michael Gove is wrong’, which we all know he is, but that’s aside from the point. It’s like having an argument with someone who is just shouting you down all the time. It ends up getting nowhere.

        If the unions can provide a clear cut solution to all of this, then put it to the government. I’ve already said in some of my previous blogs Gove needs to be replaced with someone who knows what’s going on.

        As for the employees, surely p&c’s of workers is important to them? They don’t want to be getting high staff turnover every year because of poor p&c’s. I was watching an itv program earlier called Tonight: Why be a teacher? and it tried to make out that so many teachers are leaving the profession at the moment, but they never made the link between them leaving and the cause of it.

        As for the extending of school hours, I assume you mean for when the children are in school? If that’s the case, I’ve not seen or heard any mention of that, but it would make a tougher school day that’s for sure.

        We all know it’s a tough climate right now, and we all want to be exempt from all the cuts and everything, but we just have to face the truth, we are going to be affected and we need to make adjustments to make that happen. We’ve seen the school budget decrease in real terms when it’s allegedly been protected. Striking will not change anything for the positive, just the negative.

        I haven’t been around overly long so I don’t remember a lot of strikes. I remember when I was in secondary school and one of the unions went on strike so we only had half the number of teachers in so we didn’t have every lesson, and couldn’t help but feel cheated in those days. I had a desire to reach my potential after everything that has gone wrong in my life, and these teachers were preventing me from doing that. I still believe that is the case for children today.

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