REASONABLE RESTRAINT IS THE KEY, PARTISAN REVOLUTIONARY MILITANCY IS THE PROBLEM.
May 17, 2019
The statement from the Chief Minister, calling for restraint and reasonableness from the teaching profession has been very well received by the majority of that collective.
This newspaper is aware of serious concern developing amongst senior and respected members of the profession that their current Union leadership has managed to discredit the profession in a couple of weeks in a manner that does away with much of the respect that had been gained for it. Many are concerned that they are being seen as greedy because of the size of the claim (46%, amounting to 66% since 2012) and lazy because of their holidays. This was not the publicity that the teaching profession needed. Additionally, the statements on social media by some members of the Union executive have led to most members of the public taking the view that even the Union are not backing the claim. Last week this newspaper published the statement from one member of the Executive of the Gibraltar branch of NASUWT who said that it would be foolish to put in a claim for a pay rise in excess of 40%, although that is exactly what they have done.
The Government, however, has reacted reasonably and responsibly. They have not rejected the claim. They have acknowledged the claim for the pay rise alongside other claims. They are investing tax payers money in order to resolve the claim in a way that works for the whole of the public sector. That showed respect for the profession and a very socialist approach to a claim from an important sector of the community that the government serves.
The Chief Minister has actually gone on record to defend the teaching profession from the attacks that they have brought upon themselves because of the manner in which they have presented their claim.
One teacher has also tried to stifle free speech and to even muzzle this newspaper. In various posts on social media he has criticised our edition of last week and insulted this newspaper and supporters of the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party, a party he was supportive of until a relative of his decided to join the executive committee of another party. This person has also attacked other people who do not share his view. Additionally, this teacher has specifically entered the partisan political fray in Gibraltar. There is a big difference between becoming involved in a pay claim and quite another in becoming involved in a battle on the ideologies of the political parties in a community. None of that helps to diffuse tension and resolve matters.
Senior members of the profession are not impressed by this new revolutionary militancy which does very little to advance the claims of teachers or to garner support for the profession from those who do not understand it.
Given that tempers have flared and that the issue has become a hot one, we have to accept that some things will have been said in anger. This newspaper therefore echoes the calls for restraint. The best way to resolve this matter is to negotiate other than on the front pages or opinion columns of the newspapers. The time has come for teachers to vote to avoid industrial action. The example of Jersey on which they have been sold is flawed. Schools in Jersey were closed last week because of further teacher strikes there. Jersey is, therefore, not a panacea for the resolution of pay issues for teachers and we do not have the recruitment and retention issues here that they have in Jersey.
With time, with restraint and reasonableness, all of the issues that teachers are raising can, no doubt, be dealt with. But the battle most teachers are concerned about is time, proper facilities for teaching and proper allowances for additional work. Most were not in the game for 46% pay increases. Most do not want to be on the picket line and shouting in our streets.
A few teachers have relatives in the executive committees of both opposition political parties and want to leverage the genuine issues that teachers need addressed for their own personal partisan advantage.
This newspaper has deep respect for the teaching profession. We are sure that too many teachers are too clever to allow a partisan few to win the day and impose revolutionary militancy designed to advance party politics over reasonable restraint designed to deliver on teachers’ needs.