Wait for strike decision from schools is hard on parents

Floral tributes left outside Manchester Town Hall

CHERYL GIBBS: I’m scared at how a feeling of fear is now part of life

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The very essence of a strike is to cause disruption so employees can make a point.

But planned industrial action by teachers this Thursday is intended to vent frustrations to education secretary Michael Gove over increased workloads, pension changes and plans to bring in performance-related pay.

Instead, though, it’s parents who could suffer the most as many still wait for confirmation as to whether children will be going into school on the day of the strike.

As it stands, some schools in the area have made a decision on whether they will be forced to close on Thursday or operate with a skeleton staff.

But there are many more leaving it to the last minute before making a decision.

At a time when working parents are put under increased pressure over childcare, this is simply not good enough.

For many, being left in the dark by schools over what is going to happen will create a huge dilemma, whether it involves having to take annual leave from work or arrange alternative childcare.

There is sympathy with the schools, with law stating employees cannot be forced into revealing their strike intentions to an employer.

But as Sion Reynolds, local association secretary for the Portsmouth branch of the NASUWT, says on page 5, schools were given plenty of notice by unions over the number of members who may be considering strike action.

As he rightly points out, letters were ‘sent some weeks ago’.

He added: ‘The schools should have made a decision much earlier than now.

‘The parents should have been given as much notice as possible so they could make alternative provision.’

We could not agree more.

Strike action in any industry ultimately means someone loses out.

But as the row between teachers and the government goes on, it is unfair for hard-working parents to have to pick up the pieces.

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