To see oursels as ithers see us!'
At least next week, when, according to media predictions, hundreds of schools will close due to striking teachers.
While the union activists see themselves protesting their just cause in a glorious, banner-waving amalgam of the Jarrow March and Les Miserables, it's doubtful, to say the least, whether the rest of the population will be viewing them in the same light.
Teaching unions are, as I've said here before, an anomaly; a significant proportion of teachers care nothing for union politics but need the legal protection insurance against possible allegations against them by pupils.
Many teaching union members treat it like joining the RAC or AA; pay up and then forget about it. The few active members muttering over mugs of bad coffee in the corner of the staffroom at breaktime are a far cry from the mass shop-floor meetings of Britain's industrial past.
In this case, however, the rank and file have been roused by the fact that, having paid heavily into the superannuation scheme, in some cases for many years, they may see their final pensions drastically reduced. It's a reasonable point - particularly for part-timers and women who've had a career break - but closing the schools is not the way to win friends and influence people.
There is already much resentment among the general population about teachers' long holidays and job security; when it comes to a strike, it seems that being on a comfortable salary may have prevented the union types appreciating the plight of parents who will lose their hourly wage if they take the day off for childcare.
If the union officials are hoping for parents to give a mass display of solidarity and wholehearted support for their cause on Thursday, they may be sorely disappointed.
The BBC, education and poisoned air
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