Tuesday 1 – Wednesday 2 April 2014
I’m pretty confident that most people would be aware of what the term ‘friendly fire’ refers to, but for those who perhaps don’t know, basically friendly fire is an attack by military forces on friendly forces while trying to attack the enemy. A friendly fire attack will often result in injury or death. Whilst I absolutely do not wish to trivialise the term, particularly given that so many people have been lost to a friendly fire incident, it’s the best way that I can think to describe a conversation that I was involved in today.
As most West Australians will know, many schools across the state were closed Tuesday, as teachers, education assistants, parents and children protested the State Government’s decision to remove funding from education, and Western Australian schools. I’m not going to go into the details of the funding cuts or speculate to where the funding might be diverted, because what I want to write about is a comment that was made to me on the way home from work on the day of the strike.
Given that I mentioned that I went to work on a strike day, it has to be obvious that I am not a member of the school teachers’ union. I used to be a union member, back in the day when I first got out of university, and then I learnt exactly how little the union was willing to do for an employee who needed assistance, and I decided that my money would be better spent elsewhere.
Now, I don’t object to people being members of unions. In Australia, we’re lucky in that as an employee, you have a choice – you can join a union or, if you prefer, you don’t have to be a union member. As a matter of respect, given that I don’t have a problem with my colleagues being union members, I expect the same level of respect in return. Thankfully, most of us, union members or not, are intelligent enough to understand and accept that we all have our own opinions on these issues.
Except on Tuesday when I was on my way home from work . . .
A colleague, who is a union member, made the snide remark that: ‘Today would have been money for jam.’ I laughed in reply because it had been a long and busy day, and I just wanted to be home and enjoy the lead in to my day off. I commented that we still had a few attend who were pushing the limits of acceptable behaviour, and her snarky reply, and I quote: ‘I hoped there would be.’
Hmmmm . . . righto. No need to get b!tchy because I turned up to work and had to help supervise maybe seventy-five students whose parents didn’t keep them home on strike day. We still had to provide learning opportunities for the students. We still had to supervise them during recess and lunch. We still had to deal with behavioural issues, medical issues, and general concerns. We still had to deal with students from Kindy all the way through to year seven. We did our jobs.
Just because some of us turned up to work because we’re not members of the union, doesn’t mean that we don’t care about the funding cuts or the education of the students we teach. What it does mean, and what it only means, is that we are not union members. Plain and simple.
Of course, union members might tell you that we took the easy road because we chose to go to work and get paid, rather than go to protest meetings in order to speak out against funding cuts. I hate to say it, but yes, I went to work knowing that there was no way that I was going to give up a day’s pay in order to protest funding cuts that the State’s esteemed Premier has no intention of reversing. He’s made his decision, and no amount of strike action, or protests by parents, students, education assistants, or teachers will make him change his mind.
But the point of my post is the snide remarks made by my colleague, and bear in mind, her tone had a lot to do with why I considered her comments to be b!tchy. Here we are, trying to teach students about being tolerant, compassionate, respectful, and understanding, and some of our own ranks have a lot of work to do in those areas before the booger eaters can be educated. Her remarks niggled away at me yesterday afternoon, and I was going to write a scathing post about union members and their ignorance, and intolerance of those who choose not to become members. However, it’s not just union members who display ignorance – it’s a great many people across the board who display ignorance.
Back to friendly fire. No doubt the next time I see this woman, she’ll speak to me as if she’d never mentioned ‘money for jam’ or hoping that we had to deal with behavioural issue booger eaters. No, she’ll go on as if it was her right to be snippy with me because I went to work when the union members went on strike. And if she does happen to mention it, I’ll be sure to remark that there are reasons why I get called in to work much more often than she does . . . and one of those reasons is that I don’t shoot people down in what could be seen as attacks of friendly fire because I don’t agree with how they choose to live their life.