Thursday, April 24, 2008

Teachers: striking for a better deal:

Having encountered some local kids on my way to work this morning I immediately seized the opportunity to quiz them on their impromptu day off.

Firstly, oh the horror, they were not wildly happy to free from school - what nation of goody goody children have we been nurturing at our collective breasts? Secondly, I uncovered a terrible lie. Why weren't they in school I asked... "The teachers are having an important meeting." All those years of having Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent unread on my shelves has clearly paid off because instantly I saw through this attempt to shield these kids from the blood red class war taking place around them.

The strike had been covered up!

The powers that be are determined to maintain their ideological hegemony, desperate to avoid these young minds becoming what Gramsci called "organic intellectuals" capable of questioning the status quo. This strike could have been the blue touch paper that lit up the next generation of militants, teaching them that the power of workers lies in the workplace - but no - a dirty whitewashing of the truth.

It seems to me that five is the perfect age to begin an education in trade union militancy, but it seems the ruling classes have felt the cold touch of fear upon their heartless flesh. I only hope this strike does not provoke a wave of ruling class brutality and reaction that would make Zimbabwe look like a small African country.

"Damn you!" I screamed at the ring leader "Your complicity holds back the inevitable proletarian revolution, but it can never prevent it. All you are doing is making the revenge of working class justice all the more terrible when it comes on that glorious day. Not that it is a single day but rather it's more of a process." The petite bourgeois scumbag fled in tears, no doubt wracked by guilt at her own latent counter revolutionary tendencies.

When discussing the, then, impending strike with my Mum the other day we took to reminiscing about the last teachers' strike in the eighties - when I was still at school. "It was a very bad example to set the children I thought," was her opinion. Sadly, whilst it was a very good to attempt to lead by example a one off, one day, strike rarely delivers Soviet Power and the transition to a Communist Utopia. In fact I'd hazard that the previous strike had very little effect on us - as demonstrated by the historically low level of strike action in this country we have at present.

Perhaps if the strike had achieved a fundamental shift in education we may have taken on board some of its lessons. Hell, even a non-fundamental shift would have helped. As many public sector workers have learned over the last ten years strikes without victories are dangerous and struggles half fought are also known as defeats.

All this rubbish about the teachers damaging the kids' education is just the kind of thing the right wheel out when ever anyone says "Hold on, our standard of living is less than it was ten years ago. Can we have some more please?" It's aimed at cowing teachers, preventing them taking more effective action than the occasional token strike.

If teachers, or any other group of workers, want to be paid according to their worth then they will have to organise themselves and take on the government properly. Sadly we're not yet in that position - so in its absence a one day strike will do, but let us hope it leads to more effective action down the line.

No comments: