Walking the Picket Line

Yesterday my colleagues and I participated in the fourth phase of our ongoing strike by withdrawing full services. The day dawned with the frigid temperatures of -18c but we were determined to stand up for what we believe is important.

Our bodies constantly moving to keep warm, we gathered together in front of the school where we teach. The school is not at full capacity, so the group was small. However, we cheered one another on as our bodies got used to being out in the extreme cold. As someone mentioned, it was a little like yard duty – but for an extended period of time.

I am proud to be working as a teacher for our school board. I know that we have an important job to do – a job that some in our society do not appreciate. However, the parents at our school are very supportive and understanding. They realise that the reason we are standing up to the government and the cuts they want to enforce is for the good of their children, our students.

A few parents brought their children over to show them that yesterday was not just a day away from school; these parents had explained to the children what it is we are fighting for. Two of our students yesterday morning walked the picket line with us to experience strike action. Definitely a learning moment.

It is not often that we were able to catch the sunlight and stand in its warmth. Our neighbourhood has been changing over the last few years as condos are sprouting up in its streets. We became sun seekers, searching for any spot in which to stand. Sunlight was rare, though, and we walked up and down a section of the street to keep ourselves warm (especially our feet!).

We are hoping that the government ministers see the light (did you see what I did there Becky 😀 ) – but we do not have any hope that they will. Today the secondary schools are going on their third walkout and, thankfully, the temperatures have risen by 15c. Hopefully the next time we walk out of our classrooms for the strike action, it won’t be so cold.

Have you walked the picket line?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge.)

22 thoughts on “Walking the Picket Line

      1. Frustrates me so much that those with power seem to lose all common sense and the ability to reflect before making decisions. Will keep my fingers crossed for you xx

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  1. Oh, that is some cold and snowy weather, but you and your fellow teachers are doing what is right. Hope it got the attention of the higher ups and will see in your favor someday. Great learning experience for the child to see it in action. 🙂

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  2. It looks to me like you turned it into a fun day despite the seriousness of the situation – Bravo 🙂

    I had my share of time spent on the picket line back in the 1970’s/80’s. Fortunately, industrial action rarely went beyond an overtime ban within the company I worked for. Mostly, agreements were reached through discussion. However, in the time of Margaret Thatcher’s spell in government, our management suddenly felt emboldened and pre-empted our move to an overtime ban during the annual pay discussions by meeting staff on the doorstep of each building with a piece of paper to sign declaring that we would work as instructed… Normally, getting everyone out on strike is very hard work for any union but the effect of the management’s action was to anger the staff to the point where they all handed over their passcards rather than sign that piece of paper! Effectively, it was a lock-out rather than a strike and I can remember one senior union officer saying, as we walked to Hyde Park for a rally, “We’ve got a tiger by the tail here – now we’ve got to find a way to control it!” The lock-out lasted 3 weeks or so during which extended negotiations continued between management and union. The concluding agreement gave us the shorter working week that we had been pushing for since the mid 1970’s. It was an awful agreement from the management’s point of view and a very good one for us – reduced working hours meant retaining jobs that would have been lost to new technology. In my case it meant an extra day off every two weeks! The management got a slightly increased level of flexible working hours – but the cost to them was very high as our deal also saw improved financial packages too. Several senior managers of that time were quietly removed from post over the next few months.

    That was the last time I was actually out on the cobbles. It was a learning experience for management and union alike. Both looked into the abyss and neither really wanted that experience again. A very long period of peaceful annual pay and conditions negotiations ensued and continued for close on 20 years. Only in the last 10 years of my employment did the management start to be more agressive again – probably because the old ones had moved on and the new ones had not experienced that industrial action.

    I hope your action will prompt a positive outcome for the benefit of yourselves and your students 🙂

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story with us. It highlights the fact that standing together can make a difference. The difference with us is that children are involved – and this always brings added emotion into the mix. As long as parents are on our side and are supporting us, we can go far.

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