On the day before the 28 March pensions strike for local government I was working in a Geography class. It was the last period of the day. Year 9 i.e. 14 year olds. They had taken little notice of the supply teacher during the lesson on the grounds that “supply” translates as “won’t be back tomorrow, therefore no comeback if we misbehave”.
As the students filed out when the bell went, I wished them all a pleasant day off for the next day. A group of students stayed behind to ask me what it was all about. “Can we come on your picket line tomorrow?” “Will we get into trouble if we do?” “Any chance of a detention?”
One student, however, said very seriously, “This is not a joke. They are fighting for our future as well as theirs”.
I tried the next day, at the Central London rally to describe this to Dave Prentis: “When you’re negotiating next with the government please remember my lovely student N…….. She says you are negotiating for her as well as me. She’s correct”. Got a smile and “Nice story” in reply.
Talking of pensions, a slightly less positive experience. A member called the union office just before Easter asking for help. She’s been a school cook for 30 years. As a part time woman worker she was not allowed to join the pension scheme till too late to qualify for the right to retire at 60 on a full pension.
She’s 61. She has a prolapsed bowel, uterus and bladder, presumably helped by standing in a school kitchen for 30 years. Occupational Health say she is fit for work. Her husband went with her for moral support. OH asked him what he did for a living. “Nothing” he replied.”I’m 67, a retired mechanic”. “Well, can’t you get a part time job to support your wife?” came the reply. Who says women aren’t independent?
A teaching assistant
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