November 30 – Parents Supporting The Strike
November 30th 2011 is set to be the day of the biggest strike this country has seen for decades. Millions of workers from numerous unions will walk out and take part in pickets and protest around the .country
There is alot of Government hype about children missing a day’s education, all that disruption, how awful it’s going to be and how working parents should take their children to work with them. The government has even stated that they will fly Border Agency officials home to cover the posts of their striking colleagues.
There was also quite a heated ‘debate’ on twitter recently surrounding the word ‘scab’, strike breaking and attitudes towards workers who won’t be striking on November 30th.
I decided to write how I feel about all of the above in my own words and what I’ll be doing on the day.
My children won’t be going to school next Wednesday. My 12yr old daughter’s school is closed to non working parents and my son’s nursery is closed to everyone. On June 30th my daughter’s school stayed open.for what they call a concertina day, which means they close at 1.35pm. She tells me she was bored and had no proper lessons all day. So much for us all being worried about keeping them off for fear of losing a day of education.
I plan to take my children with me when i visit local pickets to show solidarity and hand out the cup cakes myself and my oldest child will make the night before. I have been criticised for this, told that things happen on both sides of a picket line that children should not bear witness to. I’m quite certain that, at least where I live, there won’t be any violence so I don’t need to worry about that. As has already been said by many people, this isn’t the miners strike. I seriously doubt that my local police force will be chasing public sector workers outside a school, job centre or council office, hitting them with batons etc.
Now, the subject of the word ‘scab’. I’ve never used it myself. Probably because the situation to do so has never arisen. A friend of mine who will be striking next Wednesday tells me they’re not actually allowed to say it on the picket line, or hold placards or signs with the word on, so on Wednesday morning it’s doubtful my children will hear it. If anyone does say it I will handle it like a good parent and explain the word to them, what it means and why people are saying it. Although I will also add that I don’t expect to hear them repeat it, purely because they’re only 12, 3 and 2. The only people I allow my children to insult ruthlessly are politicians who are taking such delight in destroying our lives. If that makes me a bad parent, so be it. I don’t agree with strike breaking, I think people who do so wilfully are hypocrites. Afterall, they all enjoy their weekends, their paid holidays and all the other conditions of employment unions fought for. Many local union branches have strike funds for those who will suffer hardship as a result of taking industrial action. (On that subject I want to say that I had my tax credits stopped abruptly earlier in the year for a month, I lost £144 a week through it. Myself and my children suffered enormous hardship as I was unable to pay my bills and buy food. I had to choose between them, so I know what hardship is.) As I understand it all emergency services will be running as normal and local councils are making arrangements all over the country to ensure that vulnerable people and children do not suffer as a result of strike action. I’m sure all strikers would agree that’s sensible.
My first stop on Wednesday will be my son’s nursery. I want to show the ladies that he sees 5 days a week, the ladies who are patient with him and show so much kindness towards my child, that I support their strike, I value them and I stand with them. I will do the same at my daughter’s school too. Then I will take the cup cakes we’ll have to the council house and the jobcentre. I may not enjoy my visits to the jobcentre, I may detest every second I spend in there, but they’re human beings and not all of them are awful to people. My advisor is quite nice to be honest, although I don’t think she will offer me anymore literacy or numeracy classes in a hurry 😉
Some of you may be screaming at me ‘why? why? why?’. Well, the answer is simple. I want to show my children what solidarity looks like. I want to give my children a real life experience of people they actually know fighting for their rights, standing up for themselves and telling the government ‘this isn’t good enough’. How else are they going to know what to do if this continues? How are they going to know what to do when it’s their pensions at risk, when they’re the parents petrified of what the future holds for their children, when it’s their babies losing a child care centre, a health clinic, a school, nursery or playground? If we wrap them up in cotton wool they’ll never know how to continue the struggle for a fairer world. Am I being dramatic? When you’re the one sat at the bottom, with the jagged edge of the cuts staring you in the face you might feel a little dramatic yourself.
I’ll end this post with a song that was sent to me by a good friend not so long ago. I think it sums up alot of feeling among the people I know who will be on the picket lines next Wednesday.