Ding ding: round two of fight over strike action

18th January 2013 at 00:00

Simon Horne and Richard Hand ("To fight or not to fight? That is the union question", 11 January) are right about levels of support for industrial action and public perceptions of unions.

There is little, if any, public support for industrial action by teachers, especially when that action disrupts children, parents and schools, rather than the government that is responsible for the changes that unions are angry about.

In the modern age, unions and other organisations must work together and fight in other ways to highlight the folly of government policies that damage not only the profession represented by the unions but also the children and families their members work with. "Shouting platitudes" and the language of political class struggle belong in the past century.

Recent research and our own experience suggest that most teachers join a union for protection against disputes and allegations. A much lower priority is industrial action, with strikes a common reason behind teachers' decision to change unions.

With little appetite for industrial action, many teachers don't want to wear their political heart on their sleeve and are looking for something different from their union. In an increasingly fragmented sector, they want to be able to do their job, receive individual support, have their collective voice heard and collectively influence national education policy.

Deborah Lawson, General secretary, Voice: the union for education professionals.

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