Been there, done that

About 10-ish years ago the NUT went on strike.* The school I worked at was closed to students for the day as a result. I wasn’t an NUT member, so I wasn’t on strike and had to go to school as normal – except it wasn’t really normal, because I had no lessons to teach and spent the whole day working on other things with my non-striking colleagues. It’s amazing how much work you can get through when those pesky kids are out of the way!

The night before the strike everyone was in a bit of a holiday mood, so lots of us went out for the evening – nothing too wild, just one pub, then another, then the Leadmill for a spot of dancing. It was there that I suddenly realised something. Most of my non-striking colleagues had gone home early, in fact there were only two of us still out who had to work the next day. It was well past pumpkin hour. Oops.

When I got up for work that day I remember that I felt rather bad – no, not hungover (I wasn’t daft enough to get drunk on a school night – even if it was going to be a student-free day), but really achingly tired. I felt better when I saw how exhausted my more nocturnal colleague looked – imagine a distinctly sleep-deprived man, with his eyes closed, hunched in the corner of a school staffroom, eating a Pot Noodle for breakfast. He did look awake by the time we started work though. Pot Noodles evidently have special powers.

* * * * *

Today the NUT went on strike. The school I work at was closed to students (other than a dozen or so who had exams today) for the day as a result. As of two days ago, I’m not an NUT member, so I wasn’t on strike and had to go to school as normal – except it wasn’t really normal, because I had no lessons to teach and spent the whole day working on other things with my non-striking colleagues. It’s amazing how much work you can get through when those pesky kids are out of the way!

Last night I was in a bit of a holiday mood, it was not only St Georges’ Day but also my friend C’s birthday so lots of us went out for the evening. Nothing too wild, just one pub, then a meal, then the best gig I never attended (there was a slight confusion over times, start 9:45, finish 9:45, what’s one little word between friends?). It was there that I suddenly realised something. All of my non-striking colleagues had gone home early, in fact there was only me still out who had to work the next day. At least it was well before pumpkin hour (I need my sleep these days). I did not go onto a club for a spot of dancing, I went home to Mr TLC instead.

When I got up for work today I remember that I felt slightly rough – not hungover (I’m far too sensible for my own good these days), but distinctly tired.

“Well,” said Mr TLC, “It probably is deja vu.”

*I know the NUT and the papers are all claiming that it is much longer ago than that, the last strike may have only been a South Yorkshire strike, but it definitely happened.

2 comments to Been there, done that

  • You’re a maths teacher. You therefore understood that one day’s lost pay would take a hell of a long time to recoup… And I’m sure that there will be lots of people nearing retirement who aren’t aware of the effects on their final salary pension of losing a day’s pay.

    I have no sympathy with anyone who strikes, for whatever reason. Particularly those in the public sector who greatly inconvenience people who pay their wages, and, do harm to ‘clients’.

    Not everyone is able to strike anyway – and there are many people who have had no pay rise at all, and who just have to lump it or leave. Most of them in low-paid jobs, many of whom have also lost out in the latest round of tax changes.

    It seems to me that many young teachers these days go out all the time on weeknights. One I came into contact with at 8.15am recently actually still smelt of alcohol. I asked her if she’d like some mints…

  • I really don’t know why my former union felt that this was an appropriate time to jump up and down about pay, lots of other public sector workers are a lot worse off.

    I also notice that when comparing teachers’ salaries to other professions, the fact that we still have a final salary pension scheme was conveniently overlooked.

    I accept that younger teachers working in the areas of the country where accomodation is expensive are facing real difficulties, but that wasn’t the basis for the strike.

    Lets face it, if you are the kind of person who really wants to earn big money, you wouldn’t choose teaching would you?

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