So teachers are threatening a national one-day strike before Christmas over pay, pensions and workloads. This contemplated action, at a time when the economy is slowly but surely moving forward, especially in manufacturing, will have a knock-on effect due to parents having to stay at home for the day.
Already a regional strike in the West Midlands is planned for October 1, which has little chance of influencing any negotiations, will cost teachers money, and only antagonise those affected. Yet this is at a time when Government has decreed that the standard of education in relation to English and Maths is so poor that these subjects will be made compulsory for 16-18 year old students not achieving at least a grade C.
To my mind, this seems to indicate that the teaching profession has not been doing a very good job, or alternatively, the children of today are much dimmer, a fact that I cannot really believe.
In my day, school leaving age was 15, and you had to have a good standard in English and Maths to get an apprenticeship if higher education (not so readily available 60 years ago )was not the aim.
Obviously, it is human nature to want more, but in the real world, a vast number of workers have had to accept lower pay due to the austere times in which we live. Pension expectations have had to be lowered, or greater contributions made. So to try and force Government to offer teachers better rates of pay, better pensions, and improved work conditions over and above the rest of society by strike action seems selfish.
It would appear that one of their cribs is the fact that pay will in future be linked to performance. In most other professions this is quite normal. Better teachers will get more pay, with head teachers having more of a say than in the past.
For a profession where employment appears to be assured due to society continuing to produce babies on a regular basis, to strike because they cannot get their way does not set a good example to pupils. The negotiating table provides the only way forward, and teachers would be well advised not to alienate the general public.
* Russell Luckock is chairman of pressings firm AE Harris