26 February 2018

Before the strike

A strike, what to do with it? Well, join it, the answer turned out to be. The Monday before the strike those considering striking within SOS met up to talk about it. I was glad! I was a bit lost, as the previous post indicated already. But the meeting made me decide I would at least join the first two days of the strike. I wasn't quite sure about the details of the pension cuts that were the sticking point; it seemed bad pensions are just a sign of the times, but then again, it seemed the universities were overdoing it, and that's hardly unexpected. And well, one is a member of the union or one isn't. That's what happens with democracy; sometimes things get decided you're not sure of, and then you may as well roll with it. I don't mean to say you should always accept everything that is voted for democratically, but in this case I could stand with the strikers. So there I was! At least for the beginning. The idea of strikes is, after all, that everyone hopes they will be cut short as the issue concerned is resolved. And I also was reassured selective striking was not frowned upon. One reason for breaking strike would be financial; not everyone can lose two-thirds of a monthly salary. (Someone stated the obvious that 14 days of strike is not two weeks, but 2.8 working week.) And we have colleagues who are married to other union members and two fully striking adults would be a bit much for family finances!

Another reason could be that you have to prepare your non-strike days. I have a student conference coming up! That's on a non-strike day. But having that happen also means it has to be prepared. That will have to be done on a strike day!

A third reason is that the idea of the strike is that work just doesn't get done. Lecture just won't be delivered, tutorial meetings not held. But it would be naive to assume work won't be piling up. I have a big pile of working to do! I can hardly not do it. I can hardly do one fourth of it (we get a month to complete marking work, but this month will have a lot fewer days). So it wil have to be done. If I don't do any of it on strike days I'll be working myself a burnout after the strike. I'm not up for that!

My colleagues turned out to have similar concerns. Some will cherry-pick strike days with the most impact. I might do the same, and nobody found that treasonous. So being a scab on days where nobody would notice you striking seems not to come with the stigma it must have done 117 years ago.

Not working on Thursday and Friday (and maybe not the three working days after that) did mean I wanted to get some stuff done. I had marking work to do, and I wanted to have that ready before I went off. During the strike the next batch would come in. But that took some ploughing on! There were things getting in the way all the time. And on Wednesday we had an open day, so I had to be informative to parents of prospective students for several hours. It got hectic! And on Wednesday Night I would be away (blog post to follow) so I had to be done pretty much at the end of Wednesday working hours. That was quite a dash! I sent off my marking to be moderated when I was supposed to already have left, and after I got home I sent the moderation form out that I had forgot to include. Then I was tired! I actually looked forward to a bit of striking after all that...

No comments: