Yesterday The National Union of Teachers (NUT) in England held their biggest strike in just over 20 years following the decision of an independent body to effectively award them a pay cut by making their increase less than that of inflation. It’s not the first time this year the there has been unrest over public service pay in England and Wales.
One in three schools across England and Wales were affected with just over 10% of them completely shut. Of, course this will have mean pupils will have lost some teaching time close to the exams – although it’s not as if it would have left them high and dry as by this point I the year they should be studying themselves at home anyway.
Of course, the reason schools had to close is because of rules on strikes. The Law, quite sensibly, says that companies cannot bring in cover staff during a strike. Someone argued with me that companies should be able to do this, but couldn’t see the flaw in their argument. If companies were able to bring in additional staff while their own staff were on strike it would completely undermine the strike and render it pointless. Strike action is there, as a last resort, to hurt the company to make it realise that they have no resource more valuable than its Human one and should treat its employees with more respect!
Strike action taken by a group of people, even if they do not represent the majority of the profession, which is within the Law should always, in my opinion, be supported by the public. When MPs are regularly awarding themselves pay increases of above inflation in addition to their extortionate expense claims, I do think the public sector have room to complain when they are fobbed off with what will effectively mean they are worse of over the next year than they were in the previous year.
Today, the NUT is beginning to consider its next move, which may include a set of rolling strikes later in the year, having gained a mandate for this at its recent conference.