Thursday, 30 June 2011

Strike day ... and an interesting present!

Unlike most of my colleagues, I am not on strike today. My union – the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) – did not ballot for strike action as part of the industrial dispute that the teaching profession has – along with many other public sector workers – with the Government over proposed changes to the various public sector pension schemes.

The ‘management’ of the school – acting on the instructions of the local authority – has kept the school open … with the result that the building is almost empty. The students had not been informed as to which of their teachers would or would not be at work today … and so most of them have ‘voted’ with their feet and not bothered to come in. Those that have come in have had to get through the picket line outside the school gates … and this has been an added deterrent to some of them actually making it in to lessons.

I do not teach until halfway through the morning, so I have been using the time until I do to have a good clear out. I have filled the recycling bin with huge amounts of ‘waste’ paper (mainly documents sent out by the ‘management’ for my ‘guidance’ [i.e. obedience!]) and have filled four storage boxes with students marked work that has to be retained until a year after their course has ended. I am about to begin the process of ‘tidying up’ my area on the computer system. I have already deleted over 4,500 internal emails that I have been sent over the past three years (which is an average of just over 7.5 emails per working day,) and after my lesson this morning I will begin the process of rationalising and archiving my computer work files.

I have actually found the process of ‘tidying up’ very cathartic, and it has been excellent preparation for when I leave on 8th July.

PS. One of my students has just arrived with a ‘Thank you’ present from him and his family. It is a bottle of a special Hungarian herbal drink that is usually drunk as either a digestif or apéritif. It is called ‘Unicum’ … an interesting name, eh?

I wonder if I will enjoy drinking it?


  1. I'm also at work being NASUWT.

    I've also had the Zwack Unicum stuff before.

    It's a bit like alcoholic cough medicine...


  2. On the news tonight here in British Columbia, Canada was a story about BC's teacher union.

    Because the Provincial Government has decided that from now on teachers would get "zero" increases in wages, the union voted overwhelmingly to strike next school year . . . but with a difference.

    They will continue to teach the students, but refuse to do any of the administrative bs. No staff meetings, no paperwork, etc. . . . As they say, it will actually mean more teaching time with the students.

    It will be interesting to see what happens.

    -- Jeff

  3. Bob - careful with the drink! But, as an ex-teacher, let me congratulate you on your 40 years of service. It's a pity that our government doesn't follow France's, and award such long service with a medal and a discreet ribbon to be worn in your buttonhole. All the Very Best indeed.

  4. Boggler,

    I am actually having a nice day with almost everyone else out on strike ... and so far I have resisted the temptation to open the bottle to find out what the 'Unicum' tastes like.

    Have a good day yourself.

    All the best,


  5. Bluebear Jeff,

    This is an interesting tactic that is similar to one that has been used in the UK. Here it is called 'working to rule' ... and if done properly it can be very disruptive without affecting any teaching that takes place.

    I will be interested to hear how effective the teachers' industrial action is in British Columbia, and whether or not the Provincial Government will make any concessions.

    All the best,


  6. AlFront,

    As fas as I can make out, 'Unicum' is not a drink that should be drunk to excess ... if drunk at all!

    As a soon to be ex-teacher, I would have appreciated a long-service award of some kind ... but as you say, that is not the way things are done in the UK.

    All the best,


  7. I was in Budapest last year and had some of that stuff.. perhaps it is an acquired taste but I will stick to my Irish herbal drink, Bushmills single malt.

    On the other hand, may as well just get slaughtered on it.. but just this once!