Hard-won rises can always go to charity

2nd January 2009 at 00:00

I was surprised by the attitudes of teachers ("Altogether now", TES Magazine, December 12) about members' loyalty to their teaching unions. Having taught at the same school as Tom Bennett ("A dissenting voice") for a number of years, I have known many new teachers who struggle to get by on their salaries. They do not consider themselves "very well paid".

One or two days of strike action here and there will do no damage to our children's education, especially when compared to all the time wasted on things like Sats preparation. My son's primary school in Hackney was shut by the NUT strike and one staged by Unison members for their pay campaign. I see evidence every week that these people care passionately about the children and their education. This doesn't mean that they should roll over and accept whatever pay cut the Government decides to impose. Claiming that the strike vote was not democratic is a little disingenuous - all members were given the opportunity to vote and to vote against if they so wished. According to Tom Bennett's definition, few (if any?) governments have had a democratic mandate and unions that failed to get more than 50 per cent membership among the workforce would be left powerless.

As far as I understand, the word timarchy used in this article means elite in Greek. A timocracy is defined as "government with a property qualification for the ruling class". This would be more appropriately applied to the way academies are set up - a million quid buys you a school. Of course, if those who oppose strike action wish to take a principled stance, they can always refuse to accept any of the ill-gotten gains. I'm sure there are plenty of charities who would be glad to take them.

Tony Lowe, Hackney, London.

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