Ordinarily, we don’t deal with politics on the blog – but then the teacher pension reforms are no ordinary issue.
Much ink has and will be spilled on the rights and wrongs of the pension reforms, so I don’t intend to cover that directly.
More I want to explore should teachers strike period?
Gerard Kelly, Editor of the TES, wrote a typically strident assessment of the situation in the TES a few weeks back which understandably drew a few negative comments.
BMA or RMT
The TES’ take was that teachers shouldn’t strike because they are middle class. Frankly I’m not sure if class is a helpful issue here, but it does go on to ask an interesting question of whether teachers’ unions are more BMA or RMT. The logic seems to be that white collar professionals like teachers just shouldn’t strike.
But isn’t the question of whether the BMA or RMT strikes much more nuanced than the colour of their collars? Isn’t it more to do with a claculation of the impact of their actions?
For doctors, as for other emergency services, a strike really is a nuclear threat. If you strike people will die. That places a strong incetive on both doctor’s and government to sort out their issues consensually.
For the RMT the issue is different. If you go on strike people will be monumentally inconvenienced, but will be fine tomorrow. Should they wish they can strike in the knowledge that no-one gets hurt. But because it inconveniences so many it’s also an incredibly effective tactic. For themthe costs and benefits point much more in the direction of strike action.
I don’t have the figures but ‘white collar’ journalists in the NUJ don’t see averse to industrial action precisely because their calculus aligns more with the RMT than the BMA.
As does teaching unions – a day’s strike will be inconvenient to parents and students will miss a day’s learning, but no harm will come to them. Comparisons with the BMA seem to come up wanting.
Set an Example to Your Students
When I asked the question on Twitter a few people came back to me saying they wouldn’t be striking as it would set a poor example to their students.
There’s still a quesion there about what kind of example striking is setting to your students in the first place – and that depends on your world view. Either striking is an example of civic action and getting a fair deal for workers or an antidemocratic abuse of one profession’s important role in society.
What Do You Think?
You can probably tell I haven’t made up my mind, but I’d like to know your views? Should teacher’s strike, and why?