This is an easy one for me as my position has always been a clear and definite “No!”
Teachers have plenty to moan about and there is plenty to fight for but striking hurts pupils, parents and ultimately teachers and their reputations.
Teachers deserve a fair deal when it comes to workload and pay but striking is just a waste of time. People might sympathise with funding for schools but not when they have to take time off work and arrange child-care. Most children will jump at the chance of their teachers striking because they get a day off. But then some are more vulnerable by being away from school because they could be unsupervised and put in harms way.
Teachers with a social conscience might want to consider the ethics: the education and care of children are our first concern.
Strikes are pretty old-fashioned although the NEU doesn’t quite get this. They are more than happy to waste thousands on balloons, banners and megaphones but they achieve nothing. This is where your membership fee ends up: as litter on the streets of London.
The police and the armed forces in Britain are banned by law from striking. Why? We need them in case of emergencies. They can’t slope off and demonstrate on the basis of the threat to public order or wellbeing or national security in the event of a strike.
But isn’t it time we put a stop to other professions going on strike? Teaching is not life and death but it’s pretty damn important and we can’t be messing about with people’s lives. If the reason to prohibit police strikes is the potential harm to the wider community, that might also apply to teacher strikes.
We might expect that such strikes could lead to putting some children at risk of harm or disrupting their education at critical moments of their careers. Teachers shouldn’t be permitted to withdraw educational and social care in just the same way as police officers and armed forces personnel are not permitted to withdraw their vital services to the community. Industrial action isn’t just a step back it’s archaic.
If some teachers really are insistent on striking then let them do it on a Saturday, Sunday or Bank Holiday so there is no disruption to children and their families.
Teachers who withdraw their professional services to go on strike are letting their class down, their school down but most of all they are letting themselves down.