Wednesday 16 March 2011

Can a Lecturer in Creative Writing Actually Go on Strike?

We are called to take strike action shortly because of the way our pensions are being snatched from us. I actually voted for action short of strike BUT I also believe that if you are in a union you go with the majority even if it’s against what you wish. If it pricks your conscience too much, you just have to leave the union. I don’t feel that strongly.
But actually, how do I go on strike? Easy enough not to teach the four hours of classes I have on the designated day, and it’s probably sensible to keep away from campus on that day. I won’t look at my emails and ought to delete any that arrive that day. But what if that included the all important one telling me I have a place on the briefing session about applying for senior lectureship? Or a plea for help from one of my exchange students? Chances are, anyway, colleagues will refrain from emailing that day … because they’ll be on strike. This actually means that the work will just be done another time. The lack of class will also mean more emails from students.
How should I spend my time on that day? I could get on with some of my writing. But hang on a minute; that is part of my job.
“Maybe I should just watch DVDs all day,” I said to my husband.
“As long as you don’t start getting too critical,” he replied.
He has a point. It is impossible to shut off the inner critic.
Even a walk in the country would be unsuitable: I always regard such activities as thinking time.
There is a problem when you have a vocation rather than a job. You live for your work; you do not work to live. Exercise, fine meals and quality time with friends and family are even part of this because they keep you in shape for the main plot. But maybe going on strike contributes also: it might keep the system and morale in shape so that dedicated teachers can continue to deliver quality learning to their students. Except: how can we actually strike?

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