This Country is at War…
…with itself. As fresh strike announcements are made from the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) after votes in their annual conferences, it does not come as a shock.
This is yet another wave of strikes that adds to the wall of resistance that is being built by unions across the country. Today Post Office workers went on strike, last November students took to the streets of London and now we look forward to a summer of more protest against the Government aims. Nothing will match that of the million-strong march against the Iraq war in 2003, but this united front does serve a united message to the Government; we are at war with the Government.
The Government’s cuts, reorganisation and privatisation is not going unnoticed and unchallenged, and these are hitting hard across many sectors of the nation. Astoundingly, however, there is an air of annoyance between sectors and the public. With the announcement of strikes from teachers today, there were criticisms across the board from mothers, fathers and students, who, in dismay, challenged the skills of these professionals and argued that this meant they had no right to go on strike. Now, these are unfair judgements and accusations – people do forget the strains and pressures of teachers and lecturers commonly arguing things such as “they get the summer off” and “they work short hours”, but these are myths. Both of these “holiday” periods are used for marking or preparing, not for simply bathing in their luxurious grand lifestyles. Yet, these myths fuel sectors to fight amongst themselves, rather than to fight over the main problems.
It seems ludicrous that sectors of society facing the same threats would argue about the disruption to life each other causes, rather than unite and offer support against the detrimental changes the Government is making. Instead of holding a general day of action, unions hold their own individual days (perhaps with other unions in the same sector, such as teaching), but then criticise and complain when other sectors do. We are forgetting that if the Government were not making these disastrous cuts to our services, then there would be no need to strike. Furthermore, the most effective parts of protest is the disruption it causes; after all, disruption only rebounds negatively on the Government. To take that away, would take away its effectiveness. But to criticise and complain is to show a divided society, and this we should avoid.
Hence, society is not just at war with the Government, but rather at war with itself. The small battles that we fight are detrimental to the strength of the united anger that could be. To win, unions must unite; to win, society must multilaterally, unanimously fight back.