The papers today report that Education Secretary Michael Gove is asking school leaders to recruit members of the “wider school community” to take over the job of teachers striking on Thursday, the implication being that it is better for parents and governors to take classes for one day then see the school close. Aside from the bad logic that if the main aim is keeping the school open so as not to incovenience working parents, then there won’t be any parents available to teach Henry VIII’s six wives, this policy demonstrates the Big Society is a means of undermining unionised labour as well as a cover for cuts. The only positive thing that could come of this ludicrous suggestion is that parents who do act as supply teacher on 30th June may get some idea of just how difficult a profession teaching really is.
Further to my blog a few weeks back, “Unite Behind the Unions”, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls are still pandering to the right-wing media by warning the unions that striking would be unwise and counter-productive, while Tony Blair on the BBC’s Politics Show today refused to be drawn on any domestic policy issues, except to say that the unions are small ‘c’ conservatives who should learn to ‘modernise’, whatever that means. But then Blair never pretended to be on their side.
I do not dispute the fact that pensions need to be reformed in line with the ageing population and gender equality, while many in the private sector would be dancing all the way to the bank if they had pension schemes like those of some public servants; nevertheless what is going on at present smacks of the 1980s, and the threats of changes to union legislation mooted by Gove are deeply worrying.