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What is the point of belonging to a union?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by TEA2111, Jan 7, 2019.

  1. Teslasmate

    Teslasmate Occasional commenter

    Nomad, that is total nonsense. Support plans are simply a bullies charter to allow heads to beat their staff over the head with the threat of capability. They are not, nor intended to be, supportive. They are abusive and should be illegal. A mate of mine was told that no evidence was needed to put her on 'support', which as we all know is the first stage of capability. To threaten someones livelihood, after many years of performing a job well, with no evidence or apparent need for it, is just obscene.
    Delerium, tenpast7, qaztrew and 11 others like this.
  2. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    As well as "what's in it for me" you might also want to be part of a union because you believe in collective wage-bargaining, improving health and safety in the workplace, ensuring that people aren't summarily sacked for no good reason.

    You know the sort of thing: values, beliefs, moral convictions???

    I know I'm a dinosaur (and a naive dinosaur to boot) but does nobody care about those things any more? Have we no students of history or economics who have a nodding acquaintance with Adam Smith?

    We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combination of masters, though frequently of those of workmen. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject. Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labor above their actual rate.

    When workers combine, masters never cease to call aloud for the assistance of the civil magistrate, and the rigorous execution of those laws which have been enacted with so much severity against the combination of servants, labourers and journeymen.

  3. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    We'd all like to agree with that.
    But honestly, it's old now, it really is.
    I'd say to you "get real", but your other posts tell me I don't need to. Perhaps regarding support plans, I'd say "take off your rosy glasses", because I know from both first hand experience and from repeated anecdotal offerings that the Support Plan nowadays is ovewhlemingly an impenetrable route of dominance to evidenced failure, in order to expedite a decent salary being used instead for, say, four TA's who can legitimately cover classroom ratios and little else.
    Please don't link the words "Support Plan" and "acceptable teaching standard" in the same sentence. If a teacher is performing unacceptably and that needs to be addressed, there are far less circuitous and devious ways to bring out and nurture genuine skill than insurmountable paperwork and vocalised managerial castigation.

    My own support plan, some time ago now, started with the act of quadrupling the amount of marking I had to do, over night, out of the blue, and then moving the goal posts on submission in order to then increase it tenfold. It got worse and worse until it broke me. It was not until it did that they finally smiled at me.
    All this, despite excellent results, excellent pupil rapport, excellent attendance, excellent relationships with parents. They entrusted me with whole school training several times fgs. On what planet can you say that was meant to support me out of alleged deficiencies?
  4. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    Being in a union is being part of larger collective. The idea of a union just for the advice and legal aspect is a Thatcherite invention foisted upon the population of the UK by a series of law changes initiated by that most hateful woman Margaret Thatcher, and continued by other opportunist politicians.
    Unions had social clubs and were an integral part of social, before the illegality of Ogreave and lies of the billionaire own media.
    It is quite logical for unions to be part of a social network. The most pernicious and effective lie peddled by Thatcher was negativity of socialism. The UK today still enjoys the NHS today, a socialist legacy, a demonstration of the power of the collective.
    This community is an example of social media. Socialism is a way of empowering the poor, the weak and that is why the far right hate it so much.
  5. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    A wild generalisation that the vast majority are making without the knowing the reasons why other headteacher do what they do. I doubt this very much. The Unions are suddenly facing an avalanche of these SP.

    Whilst that may be the official line it is not the motivation of many HT. I have heard frequent accounts of the motivation is to get rid of more expensive teachers and those teachers that point out the bs that managers come out with.

    Whilst you may claim that there is little point in getting rid of effective teachers, that does not seem to be the reality.

    Whilst on supply I saw a lot of failing schools and in those schools that ultimately failed, without exception, the problems stemmed from the Headteacher.
    I did see some schools being sorted out by good headteachers.

    But then again, good Headteachers don't victimise and get rid effective teachers.
  6. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    The next time you read about someone being subject to X and the union support was rubbish as they rolled over and didn't stand up to the management, remember this without your support to strike or take action then the unions are almost entirely powerless.

    Without your support the unions are paper tigers.
  7. CheeseMongler

    CheeseMongler Lead commenter

    The new NEU newsletter has come in a compostable polymer wrap instead of the old plastic bag... that's going to be useful when I'm teaching environmental chemistry and the use of Earth's resources. Not a major reason to belong to a union I know...
  8. Orchid2457

    Orchid2457 New commenter

    I have been disappointed with my teaching union’s response to a serious issue in the past. From my own experience, I have to say that the promise of legal support, if necessary, doesn’t always come into fruition. There’s a lot of red tape and they tried to dissuade me from going down the legal route.

    The promise that you’ll be represented by someone who knows systems in school doesn’t always happen, my union rep who had a very grand title had just joined from a non teaching union and knew nothing about procedures in school. The frustration at having to explain every educational acronym to them was almost as distressing as the events leading to my having to contact the union in the first place. I did end up paying a solicitor who was less than impressed with the union support I’d received.

    It does seem that the larger unions especially are snowed under, presumably because they are dealing with increasing toxicity in schools.

    However, what annoys me more is the colleagues I’ve met who know full well that the head is a bullying so and so but shrug it off, don’t want to ‘cause trouble’ or ‘want a quiet life’ so unions can only do so much with what seem to be one off incidents. I got a job at a school and was told the next day by many of staff that the HT was a nightmare, people had had jobs retracted due to poor references from them, time off for illness and injuries was refused, teachers were made to do clubs and extra duties above and beyond directed time, it was really too much to bare.

    When I contacted my union about a number of issues that had accumulated rapidly during my time at this school, not one member of staff offered any support. They just didn’t understand that because of their complacency, the HT was getting away with treating the school like a mini dictatorship and didn’t know how to deal with being challenged, all of which made my case stronger as they didn’t bother even trying to defend their actions. It shouldn’t never have to to this.

    There have been cases where groups of teachers have raised collective grievances against HTs and action has been taken so whilst I do sympathise with people who feel let down by the union, I also want to say that the spirit of collectivism, starts with teachers themselves. If there’s a number of teachers on support plans in one school, it should alarm everybody enough to ask what’s gone wrong.

    I know it won’t help now but do change unions when you can. I spoke to one who are brilliant it’s small but doesn’t take nonsense. The reps ( that I’ve dealt with) are knowledgeable and keen. There are alternatives. The best of luck to you.
  9. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    @nomad is right. You'd be mad to get rid of good teachers.

    But you have to be able to recognise a good teacher when you see one. And what constitutes a good teacher in this day and age, I'd like to know?

    I fear that this list (below) enumerates the characteristics of the "good" teacher of 2019:

    1. young
    2. cheap
    3. biddable
    4. trained to use at least 6 different-hued pens
    5. ambitious and unwilling to rock the boat
    6. naive
    7. gullible

    So the management teams don't believe they ARE getting rid of good teachers. They wouldn't recognise a good teacher if s/he were the living embodiment of Every Child Matters/SHEEP.
  10. Foux da fa fa

    Foux da fa fa New commenter

    I was an outstanding teacher for 12 consecutive years - and I do not ever usually blow my own trumpet. However, having gone through numerous observations, scrutinies, OFSTED inspections, shown off as an example of a bright shining star to the newest head teacher at our school (on his interview day 4 years ago - not that I wanted to, but was forced to do a demo class)... fast forward 4 years and I am on a support plan. He deems me not good enough. My line manager is his puppet. He hates me and has replaced nearly every member of staff who was there before he was. There is nothing I can do. I am on UPS and so I am a target. I am not the only teacher in this situation. The others on support plans are all on UPS and all there before he was. The agenda is clear. I will be leaving the teaching profession at the end of the year (if I last that long). It's so depressing.
  11. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Utilising a support plan to disappear an expensive member of staff is not really the mark of a poor headteacher though, is it? It is the mark of a headteacher taking ruthless strides to keep the ship afloat. For the remaining staff, or the less costly ones who subsequently arrive, it might even therefore be the mark of a good headteacher.
    Anybody trying to square a school budget with morally sound vocational rewards is going to find themselves between a rock and a hard place. So those excellent teachers who are Capabilitied out to alleviate the financial strain are victims of this, not victims of bad headteachers.
    If we want to villify anybody in the sorry process we need to look further than schools themselves. It starts with the purse holders at the very top rung of our society; schools are desperately underfunded, and that is the real evil here.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  12. BertieBassett2

    BertieBassett2 Star commenter

    @nomad - you are rightly getting some stick for your comments! I have mentioned before that I was threatened with capability by a b***h of a head who declared me to be 'old school' and that all I did was ';teach the children'! Thank goodness I had union support, but at the end of the day, I had to leave that school and enter supply, knowing I would never have a permanent role again. A rather ignominious end to an otherwise unblemished 32 year teaching career.
  13. BertieBassett2

    BertieBassett2 Star commenter

    Oh and teaching should be a closed shop - maybe then something would be done about the insane state of teaching today!
  14. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    @TEA2111 Sorry to hear you are going through this nonsense, but glad to hear it is not going to ruin you. School budgets are being cut and it is appalling that this is the only way schools can balance the books. I hope you find an alternative environment to work, where you are appreciated and, I will say it, loved. There is nothing wrong with using the L word in relation to work, only that is rarely used when talking about working in schools these days.

    A real shame:oops:

    Onwards and upwards Mate and Never let the BarstEWards Get you down!:)
    woollani and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  15. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    Because teachers did not object enough and form, whats it called? Oh I know, a United front against the measures.

    We truly are our own worst enemy.
  16. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    Exactly. :oops:

    There is too much of an I'm all right Jack mindset in this profession. I came across a new made up work, i.e smugtocracy which has been coined by an older US professional who is referring to older professionals still in work, who refuse acknowledge the BLATANT ageism that is going on, and repeatedly stating, it is all a matter of one's competency.:rolleyes:

    It's all a matter of luck to be in a job until retirement these days. And if you're older and in work, tread very, very carefully.
  17. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    It's like the stalker who justifies his/her behaviour by protesting that they "love" the object of their attentions. It doesn't much feel like love.

    We don't hear a lot from staff who feel overly supported by their nominal "support" plans. Rather the opposite. They could more accurately be described as undermining plans.
  18. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    You are simply sadly being realistic !
    woollani and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  19. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    There is a lot of talk about how poor union support is.. I worked in an educational establishment where the SMT systematically got rid of very effective union there was. As soon as someone volunteered to be the union rep and got train they would suddenly be leaving after 6 months or so...

    This is another reason to make the union a part of social life so you can share strength.

    The problem is staff are afraid, "want a quiet life", no one wants to stand up and be counted when it is someone's else that is the target,

    When their turn comes, no one else will speak out for them. Eventually their turn will come.

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil was that good men should do nothing.”

    Often wrongly attributed to Burke but probably the Reverend Charles F Aked.
  20. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    with apologies to Martin Niemöller:

    "First they came for those other teachers"

    First they came for those on UPS, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not through the thrashhold.

    Then they came for the over 60's, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was younger.

    Then they came for the Trade Union reps, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

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