Thursday, 30 June 2011

Everybody Out!

When I first started writing this blog, I made the decision that it wasn't going to be purely a Charlton Athletic blog.

Of course, anybody who has followed my posts would notice that for the most part, when Charlton are playing I burst into life and in the close season, I tend to be a little more, well, Casual.

This blog is about me and what I do and find interesting.
It's never been overly political.
People who know me well will know my politics.
People who I don't know will be unlikely to care how I feel on issues.

As I sometimes blog about days out, shopping trips or nice meals I've eaten I'm not going to lose any sleep about suddenly changing my non political stance and reporting my part in today's strike.

This is me.
Like it or lump it.

I feel so very strongly about the pension issue that today I went without pay, to go on strike and demonstrate.

I joined up with the biggest demonstration in central London, starting at Lincoln's Inn Fields, walking towards Westminster.

There were thousands and thousands of people.
Not the rent a mob crowd who are always up for a bit of a ruck, this was old, young, black, white and all shades in between.
Everybody was there to show their disgust and to stand up for what they feel is right.

I marched near the Lewisham NUT flag.
I can honestly say I was proud to be there and part of such a good natured, considerate group of people.

The police showed respect and were quite happy to indulge in chats. With the sun high in the sky, I even gave a spare can of cola to a rather thankful, over heating constable.
I've never really had anything like that happen while being herded near football grounds.

I've been very lucky to have had some wonderful experiences in my life but nothing has given me more pleasure, pride and emotion than marching today with the like minded folk who had given up a day to protest.

(When writing this post, I decided not to go into the issues as I'd find it very hard to explain them without calling Michael Gove and his friends 'bell ends', which I don't want to do.
If you are interested in why I went without pay today click here.)


The Exile said...

Fair play Marco. Stand up for what you believe in, the Government are going to far with these cuts in my opinion. I firmly believe the people that teach our kids (among others) are entitled to be looked after when they retire. They certainly aren't looked after financially during their working life.

Anonymous said...

A good post Marco.
My opinion is the teachers aren't paid ridiculously well throughout their careers unless they decide to leave the classroom & head into management roles.
My teacher friends, who in general earn about half what I do despite us all meeting at university 15 years ago and getting comparable degrees, are prepared to put up with the imbalance due to the holidays and decent pension arrangements.
I know I wouldn't want to go into teaching now.

Dave said...

Good luck Marco, but I can't help thinking David Cameron sees this as his "miner's strike." If he concedes on this, his recovery plan will be challenged more strongly everywhere and they risk not having the country in visible recovery by the next election. Personally, I don't think we will be in recovery by then anyway but that probably only stiffens their resolve to press ahead.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you say, however for a bit of balance it should be noted that in the "private" sector the pension changes were introduced 15 years ago, but complaining about it resulted in the sack.

Marco. said...

Our pensions were looked at again in 2007. It was agreed then we would pay more if needed.
The sums haven't been done yet to decide how much more we need to pay.
The government seem more interested in trashing everything that was agreed before and starting again, despite the previous agreement mostly likely being acceptable to all parties.

Kings Hill Addick said...


I agree with Dave. You can't possibly be allowed to win this battle as it will set a precedent that will ensure that we will see just about every public sector worker strike for something. There is no doubt that cuts need to be made due to the expansion of the Public Sector under the last Labour Government, and Cameron will not back down.

I also have to say that I don't, personally, see how teaching children can be any more exhausting ay 68 than many other professions and I can't see how we can possibly have different standard retirement ages for different professions - excluding Police and Armed Forces perhaps.

However, I think the biggest test will be the support that you will or won't receive from the public, who are having to make significant sacrifices to accommodate their children being home on strike days. You need to bear in mind that the public (outside of the public services) have all had to accept the changes you are reluctant to.

I fear that as time goes on the general public will become resentful. I take on board that other graduates that were at University in the 70s, 80s and even the 90s have gone on to secure wealthy careers, but the average modern day graduate (thanks to the massive expansion of University places) doesn't necessarily earn significantly more than a good teacher; they certainly don't get the holidays or the current pension provision.

I have friends that are teachers, and I have a good understanding of their working practises, but you need to recon on the general public thinking of teachers as working five and a half hours a day, and benefitting from thirteen plus weeks holiday a year. The average employee receives four weeks annual leave, and will be expected to work over Christmas and cover summer holidays.

Also most private enterprises have seen significant job loss in the last three years, teachers are perceived as having serious job security.

I'm not saying I disagree with your stance Marco, and to be honest it doesn't effect me as my son's teachers decided not to strike, but I just can't, personally, see you winning the battle.

It did look like a good day out though.

Anonymous said...

Good luck Casual - Exile above has it just right

Pembury Addick

Marco. said...

Next time I arrive at school before 8am and don't leave until 8pm I'll remember the general public thinking I'm home in time for kids tv!
Next time I give up weekends to escort children on residential trips and don't sleep from Friday morning to Sunday night I'll remember my easy life!
I'm not complaining as I love the job.
Despite what people who don't work with children think, it really is a very physical job.
I'm on the floor with groups, teaching PE, dance, up and down stepladders etc. all day, plus all the other stuff but again, I'm not complaining as I love it.
I really don't think I'd be able to do what I do now at age 60, nevermind 68.
If you don't believe me, hold a children's party for 30 kids age 7 for an hour. Think about that then try it from 8:50am until 3:30pm. Don't imagine you'll be getting any lunch hour as you'll be dealing with the groups of kids who need small group work to remedy small misunderstandings. After a few days you'd really be feeling the strain.
Some people would be prepared to coast and not give 100% as they lose their fitness with age but personally I'm not prepared to short change the kids in my care.

Again, I'm not complaining as I love my job, the kids and my school.
I wish more parents would spend a few days in a challenging school before pontificating about how easy or hard the work is though.

Kings Hill Addick said...


I sensed the anger in your post, I do hope it wasn't aimed at me, as I wasn't suggesting that I think you have an easy life, merely that is often the public perception.

Strangely enough I organised and ran a School Disco for 37 kids aged 7 just yesterday, except that there was also another 80 aged between 5 and 8 along with them. I appreciate how tired you must get.

It would be great if the nation, and the world as a whole, earned enough to be able to pay the entire population to retire at 60 and then live for another twenty years without having to do another days work, but sadly there is not enough money to go around. I have never done a whole week in a school, all be it that I spend a reasonable amount of time at my son's school doing voluntary work, so I can't comment on how tiring it is.

My comment about being tired was in reference to other professions like bricklaying, scaffolding, labouring, shelf stacking, caring for the elderly, nursing, shop fitting, gardening. There are many more. The issue is that if those that have these occupations (which often are not the highest paid) are guaranteed an early retirement then that same privilege should be offered to all, and there is just not enough Tax revenue from those that are young enough to be still working to keep those that have retired.

I honestly wish there was, but there isn't.

What the public (and please don't automatically assume I am talking about myself here) are inclined to think is that if they have to work longer and have significantly less pension why shouldn't every one else have to do the same. The misconception about working hours is very common place, and every teacher that I know comments on it. In the course of the relationship I have with my son's school I often swap emails with the Headmistress after 7pm. She works very hard, as does her staff, but the public don't necessarily see it that way.

It's the same as how the general public hate all the 'Rich Bankers' even though very few of them have big incomes, and many of them have lost their jobs.

At a time when many, many people are on notice of redundancy they look at many public servants and are jealous of their job security. That plus the fact that the public misconception is that you work less that 30 hours a week for 39 weeks a year will, I believe, sway public opinion against you. This is why Cameron is confident of winning the dispute.

Doesn't mean I like it, just means I believe it.

Marco. said...

It wasn't you that made me angry but I must admit it was the post that sent me over the edge and feel I had to respond.
Your post came on the back of 3 posts, possibly all from the same person as they were 'anonymous' that were so abusive and ill informed I had started to regret making the blog post in the first place.
I deleted them all as nobody needs to have such vile, personal shite published about them on their own forum.
The deleted comments all followed the pattern of 'life of
Riley job with endless holidays' pattern, completely missing the point that many teachers work through at least part of their holidays to get everything done that's required.
I'm not going to pretend teachers should be treated any better than any other job, it just annoys me when sone people, (and I'm not including you here), think that as they went to school once, they know how schools are run and the ins and outs of the staffing roles.

In essence, I agree with everything you say. I'm really pleased you are a hands on parent and keen on helping out at your kids school. If only more parents were like that.

New York Addick said...

Spare a thought for Chris Powell, who is currently trying to persuade Christian Dailly to work until he's 38.

Ps - I am married to a teacher and it causes tension because I agree with KHA although I firmly respect and understand both arguments.

Marco. said...

I'm not sure Dailly is the answer NY.
I thought last season was a season too far to be honest. He's had a long and distinguished career but his legs have gone, leading to arriving late into challenges (and red cards) plus some other rather costly errors.
He may be a very useful person to retain in a coaching capacity though.

I remember you saying your wife is a teacher. I hope she's enjoying work at this stressy time of year.

I do understand both sides of the argument and worry it'll turn into a cause that Cameron will see as one he can't be seen to budge on.
However, even if it's a completely lost cause, I couldn't live with myself if I didn't protest.

New York Addick said...

With her holiday entitlement I joke she is already semi-retired, which always goes down well.

More seriously, there have always been some obvious inherent advantages to being a teacher, such as the ability to work part-time quite easily, the ability to work anywhere in the country, the fact that it's the perfect job if you have kids yourself etc..

And whilst I wouldn't want to try to get by on her salary alone, I don't think she is poorly paid at all (especially in light of the above).

Marco. said...

I don't think I'm poorly paid either.
I'm somebody with an average degree, a bit of post grad and approaching 20 years professional service so I get what I'd consider a 'fair' wage.
I can afford to buy my shopping, run a car, have a season ticket and take a couple of foreign trips each year.
The advantages of being a teacher are well documented.
It's an enjoyable job where the financial aspects sometimes pale into insignificance when placed next to the warm feeling of 'making a difference'.
New entrants to the job may see things differently.
Our current bunch in charge, on both sides of the political spectrum, have made sure students have to pay huge fees so they leave university with crippling debts. (I had free education, fees paid etc).
Those in charge have correlated higher education with
higher wages, though I'd say that's the poorest reason to want to expand your mind.
Unfortunately the starting wage as a teacher is not great, especially if you have 4 years of debts to pay back.
Add the additional pension contribution and many youngsters may just attempt to opt out of the pension scheme, which I firmly believe might be what the current government are hoping will happen.

I understand that huge changes have to be made in our country and across the world.
Doesn't mean I'm prepared to lie down and take it though. Everyone should fight their corner and that's what I intend to do.

Anonymous said...

Good for you, I like the fact you stressed it was a peaceful protest and all good nature, which is what it should be and none of the oi pelloi or rent-a-mob in evidence and good for you helping out a thirsty policeman. My only regret after reading this is not going myself, good to read someone else has similar values.