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Taking the flak for AWOL strike behaviour of others

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by kittycat37, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. Hi all,
    I am a music teacher in a primary school (state foundation) that has a special music scheme involving all children. I line manage four other staff who teach on the scheme. None of belong to teaching unions, but instead we belong to the Musicians' Union which did not opt for strike action. Although the majority of our school were on strike (including SLT) we were told that as we were not in a striking union we should come to school and undertake work 'relating to our role' with no children present. I was fine with this since we were being paid, and even though supportive of the strike I have no pension, and in any case had no option of striking. However all the staff that I line manage were furious. Despite me trying to point out that it was fair as we were being paid, none of them turned up. The Head was really angry and I feel he blames me for not managing them 'adequately' and making them turn up. However, I fail to see how I could of forced them. What really angered the Head was that one of the team rang him on the morning to say he was sick. The Head then phoned and texted me about this to say he was not at all impressed. Firstly, I think the person in question may well have been sick, but if not, how am I responsible? I've been stressed out and feeling rubbish at work today because the Head has made me feel responsible for the fact that these staff acted like this. I accept that in the day to day job I am responsible for managing them but dealing with their behaviour in an unprecedented strike situation is surely not part of my job? Am missing something?
  2. I believe a medical note from the GP is required if you are sick on a strike day.
    If the rest were on strike when their union wasn't striking, then they would be in breach of their contracts.
  3. Thanks for the reply. I agree with both those points. But am I as their line manager responsible at all? I feel like I am being made to feel like I am. I did tell them all a few days beforehand what we were expected to do. I'm annoyed with them all but I'm just not sure how to handle it with the HT.
  4. I think it is more to do with their conscience as to whether they wanted to or not and is therefore a personal matter. Just because you are their line manager you cannot be responsibe for their personal feelings. I agree, if the person went sick then under these circumstances, a sick note would be required, purely for the records.
  5. ihatemondays

    ihatemondays New commenter

    Hi Kittycat.

    KarisMata is right - if a persons union has not voted to strike, they have no right to strike, and therefore are expected for work. Therefore they are in breach of their contracts. Your HT needs to know that you did make it clear to them that the school expectations, and they made the decision not to go in. I am not sure many GPs would give a one day sick note, as you can self certify for 7 days now. It is up to your SLT. Good luck.
  6. The buck stops here - remember that phrase.
    So if a line manager is at fault because of the bevaviour of subordinates then it is also the fault of more senior staff for failing in their responsibilities. So the HT should accept the blame.
  7. Thanks for the advice and the other replies. My colleague who went 'sick' is now behaving like a total idiot. He has told me this morning that he refuses to get a sick note. So I told him that the HT would view this as breach of contract. My colleague said 'stop making such a fuss, he'll forget unless you remind him'. I'm really angry. It shows such a lack of respect for me, the HT, the strikers / non strikers. Unfortunately he is an amazing and valuable teacher. I warned him that he could lose his job and he said if it gets that far 'I'll quit'. I'm at a loss......
  8. Ruthie66

    Ruthie66 New commenter

    I'd inform the HT that you have informed him he needs a sick note (return to work certificate now) and leave it for them to deal with.
  9. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    I would get everyting in writing. Take the advice above but email the HT so you have it in writing
  10. Thanks for the advice. It makes me feel better and I think I now have to just step back as you say. The thing that makes me so cross though is that my colleague (and the others who didn't turn up) don't seem to have any idea how vulnerable we potentially are as a team. As a specialist music team in a primary school, the HT has made a huge leap of faith by investing in us. We're really a luxury that most schools can't or wouldn't choose to afford. Also our contracts have just changed from being issued by the LA to being issued by the governors. What makese cross is that the AWOL behaviour reflects badly on all of us (certainly I think the HT sees it that way). I say all this as someone who supports the strikes in principle. Ironically, the colleague who was 'sick' is anti strikes! Anyway, water under the bridge now. It's the weekend and I'm going to forget about it.

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