Should Christian Teachers Strike?

On Sunday morning one of our primary school teachers approached me and asked for my view on industrial action. They face the possibility of strike action next week. I suddenly realised that I really didn’t have a view. Well, not one which could be described as ‘well informed’ anyway.

I’ve never really had occasion to think this one through. I joined the Armed Services in order to serve my country and we knew that the working conditions wouldn’t always be the best! I went into teaching to help educate children and never really gave any thought to the wage I’d earn, let alone the pension. And I became a church planter because I wanted to see people become Christians through hearing the gospel. I was just pleased that someone was prepared to pay me to do it. I’ve never belonged to a union. I’ve never had reason to even think about striking.

But some of our congregation now have to form an opinion. And act on it. And I’d like to help. So this is a first swing. I looked at my book shelf for help and inspiration. It was found wanting. I couldn’t find anything on the websites of Christian Institute, Christian Concern or Care, but I may have been looking in the wrong place. So if anyone wants to point me in the direction of resources, that’d be helpful. I’m not going to read a book on it. An article is about as long as it gets for me.

But as a result of my thinking, here are three preliminary observations.

1. Christians ought to be reluctant to strike

Industrial action comes about because industrial relations have turned sour. Unions resort to industrial action simply because negotiations have taken an unsatisfactory turn or have reached an unsatisfactory end. A strike then is a fairly brutal method of trying to influence the negotiations. It’s at the business end of the spectrum. Essentially it’s coercion. When we strike, we’re trying to force an employer’s hand. It’s the withdrawal of our labour until a grievance is settled. That’s an aggressive strategy and it’s one that a Christian ought to be reluctant to employ too readily. I’m not saying that it’s never right, though I am saying that it should make us cautious. Consider these words in 1 Peter 2

18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.

We’re meant to be submissive employees who, because of our faith, are prepared to stomach being wrongly treated. And so, in general, Christians should be reluctant to strike.

So what approach should employees take when they have a legitimate grievance with their employers? Negotiation. But we need to urge our union representatives to stay at the table and keep the discussion going. They need to make our case to try to persuade the employers of the rightness and reasonableness of our position. I’m not naive. I realise that employers may not always listen, they may not be objective in their deliberations and it may make no difference whatsoever. But we do need to be convinced that our union reps have exhausted all forms of communication before resorting to striking.

2. Christians must care about injustice

I’m not saying that Christians should never strike. There may be circumstances where that’s the right thing to do. The reason that I don’t think that loyalty to our employers is absolute is because there are situations where we need to be loyal to a greater cause. And that greater cause is justice and righteousness. There’s something godly about sticking up for the poor and the exploited. Even if we may be willing to work for an employer who treats the staff unfairly there will be times when we feel it’s appropriate to join in solidarity with our fellow workers and oppose the perpetuation of injustice.

Historically employers have exploited the work force. Their selfish greed for profits and the ready availability of a replacement unskilled workforce has enabled them to act unjustly. If they wanted to they could simply dismiss the rebellious workforce and replace it with others. Unions arose to make sure that the ‘little people’ had a voice. And that’s a good thing. I’m more positive about the existence of unions having thought about this than I was before (that may come as good news to one or two friends! Sorry it’s taken so long).

But I’m not sure that’s the situation with teachers. I’m not convinced that teachers are being exploited or victimised. I just think they’re going to have to work for longer for a smaller pension. Is that ideal? No, of course not. But we have a massive deficit and the Government is trying to balance the books. Public sector pay is therefore one area that has come under the microscope. One senior teacher, whom I respect enormously, said that she may well strike because she’s worried that the retirement and pension proposals will affect the recruitment of quality graduates into the profession. She may have a point. But if someone isn’t going to go into teaching because financially they’ll be a little bit worse off, then I’m not sure I want them teaching my children. No one becomes a teacher for the money. Or if they do, they don’t stick at it for long. You’ve got to love educating kids to go into teaching. And I’m not sure that a few thousand pounds will make a whole heap of difference. Do I think that teachers should be paid more? Yes. Do I think it’s unjust that they’re not? Not really. On the scale of injustices that’s pretty low down in my reckoning. The principal rewards in teaching aren’t principally financial.

Given that opposing injustice and exploitation are legitimate reasons for Christians to strike, we need to ask our union representatives why they think we’re taking industrial action. And I suspect, in the current economic climate, it’s worth asking whether the strike has more to do with the employment situation or the political situation. It’ll be hard to separate the two at times, especially with public sector jobs. But strikes have sometimes been used to challenge a democratically elected Government and not to protect individuals against exploitation. So we mustn’t be naive about the possibility of an orchestrated union agenda intended to undermine the current Government’s approach to the country’s financial deficit. We may well feel that the depth and rate of the cut in public spending is too deep and too fast. But I’m not at all sure that we should be saying that with a strike.

3. Christians need to be mindful of harm

Whilst the intention of industrial action is always to harm the employer, it often ends up being misdirected towards third parties. When the employer is the Government, it’s the general public that tend to bear the brunt. When it’s the educators who withdraw their labour, it’s the kids who miss out. And so it’s worth asking what the effect of the strike will be on them and how you’d explain and justify why you’re choosing not to teach them. I’d like to think that my seven-year old daughter would be able to hold her teacher to account and be able to understand whether her teacher had a good reason for going on strike. I’d like to see a few teachers justify why they’re going on strike to their classes. If they don’t feel that they can do that, then it’s worth asking whether it’s justified!

So what advice would I give to a teacher? You need to be convinced that you’re striking for reasons of injustice. If you are then go ahead and strike and make sure you justify your reasons to your kids, their parents and the church of which you’re a part. If you’re not convinced then I still think there’s value in belonging to a union. But it may be sensible to look for one that’s less militant in its’ approach to industrial action.

26 thoughts on “Should Christian Teachers Strike?

  1. Andy June 22, 2011 / 11:53 am

    Coming from a heavily unionised industry I’m thankful I’ve never faced this decision but mindful that one day I might. Its a hugely sensitive and emotional one which can affect careers and relationships for years to come.

    One thing I have realised is that it is never as straightforward or clear cut as some might see it. Its rarely a case that a strike is completely the wrong thing to do nor the perfectly right thing to do. Its tends to be a very muddy situation with each side trumpeting their injustice/outrage with elements of right and wrong in both. Different groups/individuals/joe public will see things very subjectively depending on what side of the fence they are on and how they are affected.

    Something you might want to touch on is the person who is part of a union that is going to strike but they have decided its the wrong course of action. Do they strike anyway because they say that the majority decision stands and its not just a case of enjoying the benefits of a union when its going their way but having to toe the line when they disagree because thats what they’ve implicitly signed up for when they joined the union? If they decide that their conscience and integrity say that they have to oppose the strike, what are the implications of going up against their colleagues and explaining why they appear to be destroying their terms and conditions and continuing to earn while those on strike are going without? What about the reality of facing intimidation and abuse for choosing to break a strike, not just during the strike but for years after with careers brought to a halt and people ostracised to the extent that it follows them around even after moving house and job?

    You can often argue the merits of going on strike or not and never agree but whichever side you land the reality is picking up the pieces of broken and damaged relationships that take years to heal.

    • Phil Allcock June 28, 2011 / 8:16 am

      Andy, my dad faced this some years ago.
      He decided it was wrong for him to strike. Therefore he did not want to contribute to the strike fund either. So he went to work as usual, but he gave what would have been his strike fund contribution to a charity that helped the poor in the city he lived in, and sent the receipt for his donation to his union rep as proof, together with his explanation of why he didn’t think he could join the strike.
      He said that the union were very happy with this.

  2. Angela Almond June 24, 2011 / 1:37 pm

    I particularly appreciate Andy’s 3rd, and final, paragraphs- I am in a teaching union because I was advised to join ‘for my own protection’ over 35 years ago. Even back then , tutors were telling PGCE students that parents were getting litigious and that you ran the risk of losing everything if you were taken to court [even if the case collapsed] In my career I have known anumber of teachers – some Xn, some not, who have had to face that situation. In every case, their unions proved amazingly supportive. My union, ATL, has NEVER taken strike action – and that was one reason I joined. This time however, it iS involved.
    As a supply teacher, I have no choice, Our authority has said that heads cannot employ supply staff next thursday to cover striking colleagues – and most primary schools round here are predominantly NUT so will be closing anyway, So even if I wanted work, I wouldn’t get it.
    I am very concerned for many younger teaching assistants I know who are mothers of school age children – if their school closes, they are still required to go in, and do some sort of ‘work’ on the premises. If they cannot find childcare [because their own children are off school] and have to take the day off, they lose a day’s pay. It is one thing for a striking teacher to choose to forfeit a days pay in order to strike – but quite another to impose that pay loss on another colleague by her actions. Esp when TAs are paid a lot less than teachers, and many can ill afford to lose income. I think this may cause ill feeling in a number of schools.
    Like Andy, I am concerned about the damaged relationships. And I am concerned for the impact on our children – not just the loss of a day’s education, but also for the message we are giving them.

    And I hope that teachers, heads, and school governors [and pupils] will get special mention in prayers this Sunday in our churches!

  3. Kathy June 25, 2011 / 1:50 am

    I’m glad to pray for you all, I didn’t know strikes were imminent, and I don’t know the situation at all except I have brothers and sisters in Christ who are trying to be obedient to God’s will, yet still have to make a living in this fallen world.

    God’s blessings and wisdom upon you all. Do let me know if there are specific prayers needed, I’d be pleased to do so.

    Kathy
    California, USA

  4. Loo June 25, 2011 / 8:45 am

    I am a Christian for just longer than I have been in the NHS, which is since 1977. I have never been out on strike, as I belong to professional bodies whom have representd me in bullying situations within the ‘corporate’. I won my case.

    Public servants, please note NOT slaves, as the reference to the Bible quote, are being used to take the financial responsibility of negligent banking and public finances by a government without a full mandate.

    At present this is very personal to me. My husband is being made redundant from his NHS job, he has been working with children’s mental healh in schools. My son has just finished school and his aspirations to get a degree will cost the family……….?????? I funded my own degree twenty years ago, and supported my husband through his, which on a meagre health service wage left us a young married couple in debt, a scarifice we made for our future security.

    As for the future, well the government will want me to make me work past my sell by date. Midwifery is a demanding job and I had hoped to take early retirement ROFL. They are after the public pensions, as apparently we are ‘unreasonable’ to expect a descnt standard of living in our old age.

    Urban pastor I am glad you are funded in your ministry, but please have a tinge of guilt as you emplore your congregation to tithe their hard earned money. Cf Leviticus and ‘Give unto Ceasar’ are usually used just to give you a little aid here.

    My future is in God’s hands, but I will not have stupid pastors making individuals feel guilty aboutt striking. This government need to be reigned in, I hope you have given your Church member the prayer support she requires.

    Perhaps that is why there are many Conservatives in the Church? God helps them that help themselves?

    God Bless,
    Lorraine

    • Colin Reeves June 27, 2011 / 9:13 am

      Lorraine –

      I’m afraid you have a biased understanding of the economic situation, perhaps from accepting union propaganda in an uncritical way. Yes, the banks were allowed to run amok, and bear a heavy blame. But it was the previous government that destroyed private sector pensions, and increased public spending by borrowing vast sums of money with no regard to how the debt was to be repaid. And beyond the quoted figures for the national debt there are huge off-balance-sheet items such as public sector pensions and private finance initiatives. These PFIs funded much of the hospital bulding in the last 15 years; now the repayments are starting to hit the NHS.

      Debt is serious, and not to face up to the isue is dishonest. We have to start repaying the money. Both Conservatives and Liberals said so in their 2010 manifestos, so the government does have a mandate. Arguably they are not doing enough – they are still spending and borrowing more than the Brown government did. The unions won’t tell you this, of course.

      Perhaps you have some friends in the private sector, who almost certainly have to pay for their own pensions. They will be money purchase schemes – hardly any guaranteed salary-based schemes are left after the Brown years. And they won’t have any automatic inflation-linking that public sector workers like ourselves have. (Yes, my wife and I are both in education.) So if you strike, what are you really saying to your private-sector brothers and sisters sitting alongside you in church yesterday? “Pay for our pensions too – through your taxes.” Is that just?

      By the way, your son should think really hard before going to uni. I started my career in HE in 1978, when subjects were properly taught and standards were high – and students got grants! Nowadays it has become a racket – subjects are dumbed down, courses are shortened (and often taught in very fractured English), standards are low – and we ask students to pay through the nose.

      In Christ

      Colin

      • Matt June 27, 2011 / 10:42 pm

        I don’t want to turn what’s an important discussion into a political slinging match but I need to address this post especially when it is accusing people of being taken in by union propaganda.

        No one is claiming the debt isn’t a problem, but if you look at the facts:

        Uk debt as a % of GDP was lower under labour in 90’s 00’s with the exception of last 18 months than at any point during the thatcher government.

        Uk debt as a % of GDP is lower now than for about 95% of 20th century.

        Uk debt has risen under this government because of the cuts, not inspite of them, the cuts have slowed the economy, reducing tax receipts and increasing the benefits being claimed. As predicted by a large number of respected economists.

        On pensions, changes were made to teachers pensions in 2005/6 to make them viable. A position which the OECD and the relevant select committee in parliament have confirmed still stands.

        This argument that private sector workers don’t get such a good pension is bizarre. I don’t get paid as well as people with equivalent jobs in the private sector. I have a job which gives me a lower life expectancy than equivalent in the private sector. I don’t get free/discounted shares as benefits like many equivelants in the private sector. I have much less options for advancement than those in the private sector. One thing I thought I did have, was a fair reward at the end of my career.

        Are we saying we want to see those of 66/67/68 still in the classroom struggling on?

        Maybe you should stop accepting everything you read in the daily mail in an uncritical way.

        I hate the thought of going on strike. I refused the last time over pay because I thought it was immoral. I teach because I want to inspire children. But teaching as a profession needs defending against the current onslaught by a government who says it wants to raise the quality of teachers while saying that anyone is capable of going into a school and doing what a teacher does.

        The way I’ll be inspiring my students on Thursday is that they live in a country where workers have some power, and are not at the mercy of their employers. I just hope that’s still the case when they grow up.

  5. Nick Woolley June 25, 2011 / 4:52 pm

    A very interesting and helpful blog, thank you. As a teacher fresh put of university I was just wondering though if it is right as a Christian not to strike, but then accept the future benefits, if the strike action has an affect on the government’s plans. That would then mean I still got my day’s pay and the benefits of the changes whilst my collagues lost a days pay. I feel that then could be morally wrong as a Christian.

    A very thought provoking topic!

  6. Lauri June 26, 2011 / 3:46 pm

    Lorraine, I think you are judging somebody with good motives here in a way that might be clouded because of your own situation and experience.

  7. Colin Reeves June 29, 2011 / 11:59 pm

    Matt:

    I don’t want to prolong the argument either but your reply displays the general ignorance that pervades the public sector. As I mentioned, my wife and I have both been in teaching for many years, and it seemed only right to check the figures before making any decision. (I’m a mathematician, by the way.) Sadly, it appears that many of our teaching colleagues, even Christians, have delusions about their pension situation, and regard themselves as victims without thinking things through.

    To get a pension worth 50% of final salary, a teacher has to work for 30 years. (And 30 years is probably enough; I agree that teaching is not an easy life. So the raising of the retirement age is an issue – but a separate one.) Even if the teacher didn’t pass the threshold, that means an index-linked pension of £16000 p.a at current rates. To get an annuity increasing by 3% a year (if only inflation was so low…), that equates to a pension pot of around £400K.

    Only about 35% of private-sector workers have access to a pension scheme, and most of them are defined contribution schemes where the employer pays in about 6% – less than half the employer’s contribution in the TPS. (I don’t have a clue who you think are equvalent private-sector employees to yourself. Investment bankers, perhaps? 😉 To get a pension pot of £400K from one of these, a comparable private-sector employee would need to save 12% of his salary, even if the investment fund earned 5% p.a. after inflation – and most pension funds would be over the moon to get such a performance. There are some assumptions in there, but all conservative (small “c”) ones – and they agree pretty well with published figures by independent agencies. (Not the Daily Mail, which I never read actually.) So for teachers to be asked to contribute 9.6% isn’t unreasonable.

    Incidentally, you missed my point about the national debt – we have serious off-balance sheet liabilities which should concern us greatly, and the explosion took place in the Brown years. See

    http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/realdebt.pdf

    OK. That’s enough. Just thought I would highlight a few facts.

    In Christ

    Colin

    • Matt July 10, 2011 / 11:21 am

      I’m sorry, you claim not to read the mail, which true or not becomes irrelevant when you quote the mostly Tory funded tax payers alliance, darling of the mail and the sun. They’re the British equivalent of the US tea party. And you seem to also manage to miss the point on pensions.

      First : retirement age can’t be separated from the other issues. They are part of the same reforms

      Second: the most disappointing argument, especially for Christians, is this rush to the bottom. Because private sector workers have appalling, immoral pension provision, we should make sure the public sector are just as bad off.

      The deficit is not the problem the Tories would have you believe. The cuts are an ideological process. As Christians I don’t understand how we can support these, pensions or otherwise, which are by their own admission tipping people into poverty and homelessness.

    • Olivia Ashton November 20, 2011 / 12:09 pm

      I genuinely believe that contributing 9.6% of my pay each month is unreasonable. I’m training at this moment, but worked in a school for the entire academic year last year and the year before.

      When I qualify and get a job (prayerfully there will be one provided for me) I will be on a starting salary of £21,588. I will be paying back £45 a month in student loans. I will be paying tax of 20%. This will leave me with £16,448PA (or £1370PCM). If I then give 9.6% (£2072PA/£172PCM) I am left with a take home salary each year of £14375, or £1197 each month.

      This is LESS than I used to take home when I worked 38 hours a week in a shop. A shop where I was paying 3% of my monthly pay into the pension pot, and the company were matching it – so 6%. Not really that shabby, considering I also received half price shares, free childcare, 32 days holiday a year, as well as sales-driven incentives. I used mine to get free cinema tickets, vouchers for HMV and M&S etc etc etc. because that was all that was important to me when I was 18. Other colleagues used theirs to pay for all inclusive holidays for them and their families – one holiday would have cost a friend £2000 plus spending money without the vouchers.

      I’m going into teaching because I love children and young people, and I believe that I have something valuable to share with them, and something valuable to gain from being involved in their education. I’m really really hoping that it will all be worth it when I’m 68, struggling to get down to child level in the classroom (I’m doing primary), finally retire and then live on very little.

      • theurbanpastor November 25, 2011 / 2:19 pm

        Thanks for posting Olivia. It’s a while since I wrote this article. But I’ve just got back into the country and realise that new strikes are imminent. That may explain some increased traffic to the post.
        My only comment on your post would be that working in retail and working in education are bound to be different. The state education sector is not profit making and so it can’t generate money in the way that a store can from sales. And so whilst a comapny can match your pension contributions and can afford to be generous, the Government (with the spending limitations in place) cannot. However, I’d love to see teachers paid more. I’m just not convinced that Christian ones should be striking over it. It does come down to our own motivation for striking and I’m just not sure that a lower standard of living is a good enough reason. It doesn’t seem very self sacrificial to me, that’s all.

  8. gareth mcnab June 30, 2011 / 9:04 pm

    I think EVERYONE who posted above should at least recognise the author’s arguments are all made from a conscience informed by the scriptures he cites; not the stats in whichever paper you read or the fury that I understand many on both sides of the private/public sector argument feel.

    Believers have to deal with the scriptures cited and their consciences – I think the author has done an admirable job in seeking God in His Word over this issue that most are deifying their own rights or political persuasion and then seeking ‘god’ on the matter.

  9. Phil July 2, 2011 / 11:04 pm

    Gareth – that’s a lovely sentiment but we have to be real. How can we hold the facts up to the scrutiny of Scripture if we don’t take the trouble to check the facts. The Bible has much to say about debt, finance and aspiration – these are the points people are teasing out. What everyone is ignoring is the global issue. In the UK we are obscenely rich, even the poorest of people in our country are living in better conditions than many working people around the world. Our country is rich because we have exploited the poorer countries of the world, and we are also discovering that the wealth creating resources of the earth are finite. We can strike and protest all we like, but don’t then start sticking up any Christian Aid posters and the like – the world playing field is slowly becomimg more level, and we as Christians have campaigned long and hard for it to be so. Sadly too many Christians assumed that meant making everyone else rich like us – get real, it aint gonna happen – we have to learn to be poorer, and we aint seen nothing yet. Next time you ring a call centre in Mumbai, just remember that the polite person on the other end of the phone probably lives in a slum and shares a bathroom with about 50 0ther households, we need them to live in that poverty so we can pay them a pittance, and thus make all our luxuries affordable. Christian teachers wake up!! this is the Gospel that you claim to believe in happenning, what exactly are you protesting about?

  10. AL August 25, 2011 / 5:01 pm

    A well thought post and some good views.

    You touched on the fact that unions and the right to strike was originally to protect the working classes from employers. Strikes are not always about pay or money but often conditions and safety however much media and employers spin it so it becomes a pay issue.

    The truth is we live in an individualistic and selfish society. Noone is interested in strikers especially if it inconveniences them, unless it’s their job, wages or safety on the line.
    The first reaction is look at ‘me’ if my deal is not as good as the strikers then they are wrong to strike, rather than ‘this is a cause I should support’. Maybe the Christian response should be what has gone wrong and how can I support those who feel a lack of equality rather than assume it’s greed. I suspect the real motivation for some public reaction against strikes is often envy or inconvenience.

    As a former London Underground worker I saw that union leaders were often as manipulative as employers. Employees often joined unions as they saw this as the only secure way of keeping their jobs from managers bullying tactics. As a christian I always felt uneasy at striking. I was not forced to join a union but chose to join one that mostly balloted on safety grounds. I felt the right thing to do was to stand with my collegues if a democratic vote was to strike whether I voted yes or no. In 10 years I striked 3 times and it was never over pay. If I ever would have been asked to strike over an issue I thought was morally wrong I would have left the union. But this was never the case. My colleagues knew i was a christian and i felt a Christian witness was to stand with them and show the God who I believed in was a God who cared about the equalities and frustrations they felt, not one who condemned them and didn’t relate to the very real pressures they experienced.

    Surely this is the heart of a social gospel, bringing equality to the marginalised. After all, you will never hear a wealthy lawyer, dr or banker striking – they have already been paid in full.

    I believe it is the right for working class people to withdraw their labour at injustices when other means of communication have broken down and i see this as a valid Christian response of making a stand which is legal and historic within this country for those who often don’t have the privileges of others,
    whether teachers fall into this category is another question.

  11. Jim September 7, 2011 / 4:59 am

    A very well written and thought out argument. I can’t say that I’ve waded through all the comments; there’s things that my brain can’t fathom, I’m afraid, and will leave it for another night.

    What I really appreciated was the different view that you opened up upon the union. In North America, sadly, there aren’t very many open minded folk, they either love unions or hate them, and they don’t know why…

    Thanks.

  12. Helena Davey November 30, 2011 / 6:28 pm

    I completely understand why a Christian would feel uneasy striking over something like pay. A lot of the time, striking is to do with greed or envy. For that reasons Christians need to show discernment before deciding on industrial action. However, as a secondary school teacher, I am aware of other reasons why teachers are striking – it’s not just about pensions but also about the unfair workload teachers are faced with. The press don’t seem to be homing in on this so much and, unless you are faced with these conditions, it’s pretty easy to conclude “you’re a Christian, you shouldn’t strike.” It’s not as clear cut as that. Here is a Facebook post from a teacher friend of mine; she’s not a Christian but I totally agree with her argument and it was for the same reasons that I decided to go on strike today:

    “So I will be on strike tomorrow. It’s my first time doing so and I do so reluctantly. The focus of this strike is pensions, but some of you may not be aware that teachers are also going on strike because of unfair workload. For me this is why I will be marching. My job means that I have to teach all day, come home and work till 7 every night to plan the lessons and I work most weekends to get the marking done. We are not given time enough to plan and assess the kids we teach. My school is generous compared to the national guidelines but it’s still not enough.
    My pay is already frozen and there is no such thing as overtime. I LOVE my job but I hate my hours. You have to be a graduate to teach but I would be financially better off if I had stayed in retail. The kids I teach make this job worthwhile, not my pay. Isnt teaching important? Why isnt it valued? So there you go. I am taking a stand tomorrow. Love to have you with me.”

    I hope this is helpful

    • theurbanpastor November 30, 2011 / 6:37 pm

      Helena, thank you for posting. Just so I’m clear, can you explain further what you mean by ‘unfair workload’. I suspect that’s a phrase that needs clarification. What’s unjust about working until seven and on a weekend? It’s long hours, I concede that. But unless I’ve msised soemthing aren’t you saying that teachers ought to be paid more for the work that they do, especially given that they don’t work a 9am-3.30pm day. I agree. I think teachers ought to be paid more. But I’m just not sure that they should be striking to argue their case. Hope you wer able to catch up on some marking today!

  13. Helena Davey November 30, 2011 / 7:58 pm

    No, I’m not saying teachers should be paid more. I didn’t go into teaching for the huge payslip. I went into teaching because this country is crying out for a Christian voice in the education sector. What teachers were striking for today was the lack of time we get in our contracted hours to get the work done. Buerocracy, the government – Ofsted in particular – are all dictating what we should be doing as teachers (unnecessarily) to meet particular standards. This in turn is eating into valuable planning and teaching time. You will find that the majority of teachers aren’t crying out for more money but rather for more time and a feeling that what they are doing is valuable. If we’re going to bring money into the equation then a lot of teachers will argue that it shouldn’t be that people in the public sector should be paid more – that’s merely justifying the twelve hour work day (I disagree with what you say about working until at least 7 being fine) but rather more teachers, more nurses and more doctors be invested in, thus easing the pressure. More bodies on the ground are needed. I find it sad that millions of pounds worth of tax payer’s money is being spent on the 2012 Olympics (during an economic crisis) but the government can’t budget some of that money to invest in the wellbeing of public-sector workers. I also think that, as a Christian, it is important to defend services like state education and the NHS that were both founded on Christian principles and are taken for granted by most people. Sadly, these are both suffering at the hands of this government and their futures are looking pretty bleak as a result.

  14. godandpoliticsuk December 2, 2011 / 11:28 pm

    This is the best artilce I have found relating to this issue on the internet! I’ve had to think through this issue long and hard as a teacher over the last couple of months and it certainly gave me some food for thought. I’ve been wanting to write a piece about this for a while on my blog, but much of what I’ve wanted to say you’ve already covered, so it was much easier to link to yours. Thank you!

  15. Stuart June 21, 2012 / 4:35 pm

    I’m afraid you have a biased understanding of the economic situation, perhaps from accepting union propaganda in an uncritical way.

    ————-
    the above exactly points up the problem with issues like this – I could equally say that person with such a pov has a a biased understanding of the economic situation, perhaps from accepting ‘conservative’ propaganda in an uncritical way – particularly as said quoting right wing groups like the Taxpayers Alliance, who have a definite axe to grind and would happily see most of us in the public sector sacked .
    I have been on strike on a number of occasions but personally (as a fairly well paid person) I do it not for myself but the many very poorly paid civil servants who are on just above minimum wages and who now face a govt that in effect wants to break its word – it would be quite easy to say “I’m alright” and go into work. I also think that as union member if one does not accept the vote then really its more honest to leave than continue and take the benefits whilst choosing for whatever reason to not follow the union if a vote is for a strike. That people in other countries are less well paid or that private sector workers have poorer pensions shouldn’t be a rationale to justify the race to the bottom that this govt is quite keen to encourage. As much as I don’t consider myself left wing when sometimes one reads comments the other way (incl some here) I realise that neither am I in the conservative Christian camp either and remember that the Unions and Labour Party in this country were very much founded by Christians

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