March 10, 2023
From Redline

By Don Franks

There may yet be a shittier article written about next week’s teacher’s strike than Martin Bradbury’s effort in today’s Daily Blog but it will take some doing.

Bradbury writes :

“I think the Teacher Unions may well have overplayed their hand here with news of a general strike next week. The backlash by exhausted parents worried about their kids failing educationally will be very damaging to the goodwill the teaching profession has. In turn, the Government has to do everything it can to settle this now so that the strike doesn’t go ahead. That said, let’s be completely honest – all that is being asked for and all that is being offered are band-aids to haemorrhaging problems in education. Teachers deserve 4 day weeks + more pay + extra resources + a teacher’s aid in each class + provide bonded scholarships with accommodation for new teachers. Teachers work miracles with our kids, there are few silver bullets in social policy, education is one of them. We need to nurture an education environment that respects Teachers and resources them properly because our Schools are central hubs within our community that can and must be utilised and supported more. That takes far more money, that takes a Government with the courage to tax the fucking rich more so that excellent public education continues to be the egalitarian pillar of New Zealand. Striking for bandaids that don’t go anywhere towards the required solutions seems so limited and shallow.”

The teacher’s “overplayed hand” strike announcement comes after ten long months of fruitless collective agreement negotiations. What alternative action should the workers have taken, give up?

Meekly wait and hope for another ten months?

The workers may be “striking for bandaids” on Bradbury’s keyboard, they are in fact demanding essential real things: like salaries increased to match inflation, and guidance staff to work with increasing numbers of students who are struggling with mental health and societal issues. Striking early childhood teachers, working in one of the highest sectors in the country to suffer from illness, are demanding more sick leave than their present small allowance.

Bradbury writes that the government: “has to do everything it can to settle this now so that the strike doesn’t go ahead”.

In this context “everything” is a bosses out. There are many ways to stop a strike going ahead; legal tricks, sell out compromises, state force. In this case, all the government needs to do is seriously address the workers’ demands .

And why the panic? We’re talking about a one day stoppage here, not an armed insurrection. Coupled with his plea for the stoppage to be prevented as the first priority, Bradbury’s chest thumping about “courage to tax the fucking rich” for ” an education environment that respects teachers and resources them properly” rings absolutely hollow . The kind of solidarity teachers are mustering at the moment is the only viable way workers can put pressure on the rich and achieve some justice. A win for teachers here will be a step forward for the whole of the working class.

Next Thursday, 50,000 hard working underpaid teachers are due to down tools for the day, in pursuit of a better deal.

More power to them.