The dream of a decent work-life balance fades

22nd October 2004 at 01:00
I read The TES every week and am increasingly amazed, and not a little frightened, at the lack of any serious response from the bulk of my profession as a series of measures are introduced which steadily, and stealthily, worsen our working life.

Perhaps, even more worrying, is the response of our unions which hails these worsening measures as breakthroughs and improvements: things to be applauded and welcomed.

Really?

How is our working life better now? Do we get to retire earlier? No. Now, most of us have to work until we are 65 if we wish to receive a full pension.

We lose: the Government saves five years' pension payments for each teacher, and, of course, there will be an increased number who will not live to receive this delayed pension. Clearly this is good for teachers.

Not.

Response from profession? Slight and muted.

Concession: benefits not affected if you retire before 2013. Do you really believe this?

Then we have the remodelling of the workforce. Sold to us as something which would allow teachers to focus on teaching and remove non-teaching tasks from our working week. A kind of Nirvana agreed to by nearly all of our unions and which would at a stroke improve our work - life balance. This is just an illusion.

But the final insult from a Government which has taken on the teaching unions and won, in the kind of low-key way which Mrs Thatcher could only have dreamed of, is the way they have skilfully engineered a cut in our pay (and hence pension) by phasing out management allowances.

So win-win for the Government and lose-lose for teachers. But, parrot the unions, we have secured an agreement which means management allowances will be replaced by teaching and learning allowances.

Like workforce remodelling has improved my work-life balance? Yeah. Sure.

Dream on.

Simon Midgley

63 Bankside Lane

Bacup

Lancashire

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