THE BLOG

The Unions Fight is Our Fight

12/07/2014 22:36 BST | Updated 10/09/2014 10:59 BST

We can give our kids a day off to celebrate the coronation of an unelected head of state none of us have ever met, but far be it for us to have them out of the classroom in the name of better working conditions and fair pay.

Never mind the immoral wage declines and unbearable work-loads of the public sector employees that call for strikes, children might have to go a day without school! But of course, it is no longer the mindset of society to plan for the long-term, to consider the future prosperity of the educational system. We've been hooked by a corrupt and twisted financial and political system into only thinking short-term.

Anyone who falls for the Tories' feigned concerns over children being out of school for 1 day (1 day!!) is highly gullible - this government wants to silence any voices of dissent and they're using this strike as a chance to do so. They are already attempting to push through even more draconian laws relating to unions, but it is not out of fear for children's education. It is to silence the unions, the same way this government attempts to silence anyone that would dare raise a voice against them.

One need only look at the government's response to foodbanks (the DWP switches erratically between ignoring and attacking them), or the authoritarian 'Anti-Social' and 'Gagging Bills' pushed through earlier this parliament. They consistently choose to shut down criticism and march on blindly with their dogma, rather than listen to people on the front lines.

The hypocrisy of attempting to regulate union ballots so more than 50% of its members have to vote for a strike is astounding. If the same rules applied to all areas of politics then a large amount of the MPs in Parliament wouldn't have their seats, and the Tories won't have a hope in hell of winning the next election. The Tories don't care about how democratic union votes are - they're just annoyed the unions voted a way they didn't want them to. Over a million people were involved in the strike - a million people being angry enough with their government to go on strike is quite enough for me.

It is not the teachers' strikes that is putting children's education at risk, but Mr. Gove's poisonous policies. They took the action they did, as did over 1 million other union members in various public sector areas, because they are so demoralised and pressed upon that they are worried about the future of their professions.

To agree with the Tories on this you must truly believe that the strikers, people who have committed their lives to providing services to the public, teachers that have dedicated their lives to helping children learn and grow, are completely driven by money, and not the love of their work. Perhaps this is why Tories fundamentally don't understand unions - they assume it's all just selfish self-interest that is damaging society, rather than collective movements that aim to give workers a voice and fair conditions, whilst checking the power of those at the top. They assume only the desire for more wealth can drive people, rather than notions of equality and justice, or the fear of seeing a profession slowly slip into ruin.

Strikes are vital not only for the workers striking, but to ensure their professions stay on the right track. Far from the teachers selfishly disrupting children's educations, they're trying to protect them.

How will we attract more people into teaching, when they will be treated so poorly and fragrantly ignored by their Secretary of State? How can we expect a good education for future children when teachers are so overworked and underpaid? And what kind of message are we sending to what should be one of the most respected professions in society? We should be supporting them in their struggle for fairer treatment and a better education system for all, rather than demonising them for standing up to a dogmatic and unfair government.

As Alan Johnson pointed out on Question Time last week, it's all well and good saying unions are important, but that means nothing if we demonise them every time they choose to actually strike. What everyone in this country needs to do is support the efforts of millions of union members, fighting for fairness and against austerity, instead of allowing the Tories to get away with divide and conquer, yet again.

Their fight is our fight.