Monday, 20 June 2011

8 Hours Labour - 8 Hours Recreation - 8 Hours Rest

So 30 June it is - the day the trade unions in the public sector stick their toe in the water and come out on a day’s strike. The long awaited response to government attacks and plans to shave-away hard won pay, pensions and working conditions, all part of the austerity drive-in, the coalition order and take-away.

The media as one can imagine and indeed observe, is already stigmatising, labeling and pronouncing the strikes as disruptive and harmful to an already fragile economy, such attacks are mild at the moment, and sure as the sun sets in the east they will start to up the tempo and play their part in dividing worker against worker, as the autumn of discontent is working its way onto the print of newspapers - but the reality is that millions of staff face pay freezes, massive job losses and pension reforms described by the unions as nothing short of “daylight robbery”.

The National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers have already announced the results of their respected ballots on the proposed pension reforms. The unions say that reforms will leave members paying more, working longer in a very demanding job, whilst receiving much less when they do evidently and eventually retire.The government spin the tale that they are crucial to getting public spending under control; a classic example of untruths and distortions weaved like a spiders web, in fact a web of real deceit. 

Just one penny, for every-time it is said in the press that our children are not attaining the required schooling standards, would indeed bring in a bob or two. Now of course, we are being told by the Education Secretary (Michael Grove)  that 200 of the worst primaries will be converted into independent state schools under the leadership of a new head teacher amid evidence (allegedly) that too many children are still struggling to master basics at age 11.

For anyone who has chosen education as a vocation, trained and studied to pass-on skills to a new generation this must be a real nightmare - a real note of biting irony and studied insult to all educationalists.

The move marks a major shift in education policy following years of school tinkering with programmes targeting state secondaries. 

It is also a sign that the Coalition is redoubling its efforts on education reform, despite the chaos that is engulfing its attempts to modernise (sorry privatise)  the NHS. 

Well our schools and education system is only but one battleground opening up, and as if they were cavities the decayed area in a tooth, only the government want to extract all our teeth without any anesthetic, they are wrong to think it will produce insensibility, devoid of passion or feeling.

Last week Danny Alexander said that strikes protesting and defending pensions were “unjustifiable” because they ask the taxpayer to work longer so that union members could retire sooner and on a more generous pension package. I am not familiar with currant arrangements in the civil service and public sector, but I do know this, that a system that can afford to generate large sums of money to pay bankers by the bucketful in the way of outrageous bonuses and other additional payments, and with all the many perks of the job, can afford to provide every worker with a decent retirement package of comfort into their old age.

Now there is a lot more to the fermentation of dissent building amongst public sector workers at this moment, but one thing is for sure, this government agitation of turbulent change and  development must be defeated - to suggest that after a lifetime of toil all day long, week in and week out, year in year out. 
That we have to all work longer, is a step backwards in time; in a sane society (which this is not), we should all be working less and enjoying earlier retirement having done our bit. Not only that we should have a shorter working week, without the loss of pay or the need to work any overtime. This was the dream of the founders of the trade union movement; and if anything it should be our goal to realise it.

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