Sunday, 15 April 2012

Sara Malm’s article on strikes is disgraceful, selfish and quite frankly passé.

There are some moments that make you want to hang your head in shame. The morning of Friday the 13th is one of them and no, it’s not because my boiler broke, I lost my keys or walked into a glass door. This time I’m not hanging my head in shame because I’m ashamed for myself, but because I’m ashamed for my generation.  This time, I’m ashamed because I’ve read Sara Malm’s article and her regressive naïve attempt at trivialising the historical role of unions and strikes.

Apparently Sara wants to be a journalist to ‘shape the news’. The less said about what kind of shape she’s working towards the better. I can only assume (or hope) that the article was some ill-orchestrated attempt to jumpstart your career as a journalist, Sara. Think about it, you could be the Queen of Controversy. People would read your over simplified analogies every day to shock and disgust themselves over their cornflakes. You’d never have to work an ‘entry level’ job again.

And that’s the crux of the matter really isn’t it? You know how difficult it can be working your way up. You know that the strain put on people by the targets of management causes resentment. How unfair. Almost as unfair as, say, having worked hard to become a teacher, dedicated most of your life to educating the next generation just to be told that’s you’re actually disposable, a resource. That your pension and jobs and working conditions can be taken from you at any time. Make no mistake about this; striking is a clear way of saying ‘No’.

‘No’ we won’t work half our lives and then live in poverty after retirement because some public school boys say so.
You mention you jobs in this ill-informed attempt at political commentary. And I expect that during these jobs you worked a set amount of hours? For a set wage? That you worked less than seven days a week? And you didn’t start working at the age of four? Interesting how you write a scathing (and let’s face it, weak) denouncement  of unions, as you work a 9-5 job with your basic human rights intact. And yes, Sara, you have unions, strikes and ‘foot stomping’ to thank for this.

We’re all well aware of the practical difficulties facing parents when teacher strike. There’s a reason most do it without writing adjective ridden articles and angry letters; they understand it is necessary. A way of ensuring that the future generation will get a wage they can live on, will get to retire and will be able to survive when they do. If our teachers, hospital staff, social workers and civil servants allow their pensions, jobs and rights to be taken away from them, how will they look their grandchildren in the eye when asked ‘What did you do?’
It is a temporary inconvenience with long term implications. The unions are not sulking, throwing a tantrum or screaming in the aisle of a supermarket. They are reminding a blasé government that those pieces of paper they are holding have real life consequences, apply to real people and these people have worked hard to have the wage, pension and right that they have. Why would they silently let them be taken? Hardly the same as pulling a sickie because you had one too many glasses of wine the night before, is it now, Sara?