An early start to the day, but happy and proud to stand on the picket line with my colleagues in the freezing mizzle this morning. Would have been happier if I'd worn long trousers and the sun had shone mind you, but had good company to help pass the time, and lots of cars tooting their occupant's support as they passed. Many more lecturers have just taken part in another protest outside of the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood and, if things continue as they are, we'll repeat the something similar next Tuesday and Wednesday.
I try not to do political on my blogs. But it's my blog. And this is personal. Feel free to skip on, I don't mind.
I know some people think we have it easy in our job. Holidays by the bucket and spade load, weekends free, nice indoor job. Yep, we've all that. This isn't about any of that though. It's about a level playing field for all in the sector. We've had college mergers, under the premise that this would save money, but that's not happened. The knock on effect of that is we have lecturers doing the same job but receiving hugely different salaries (over £10,000 between highest and lowest). We're riding out cutbacks, like many industries are, to the extent I sometimes feel embarrassed at some of the corners we have to cut in a 'state of the art' establishment to deliver lessons to our increasingly weary but steadfastly patient students. Staff morale and motivation has dipped to the point I'm hoping it can't dip any more. I've watched far too many good friends becoming ill with this recently, to the point that some have given up and left altogether. Then we have a wage settlement imposed upon us by people who say there's no more money in the pot, only to discover some of those same people have accepted a settlement five times that. We got tired of waiting for the Scottish Government's empty manifesto promise, from 2011, to help reintroduce the process of National Bargaining which would bring us into alignment with school teachers and university lecturers.
I'm sure there are huge sections of workers all across the UK just now that are slowly being pressed and pressured like this, but as a sector we decided the mumping and moaning in the corridors and workrooms wasn't ever going to get us anywhere, so voted for strike action. Quite overwhelmingly. And today was the first of those days of action.
After this morning there's a sense things might move in the right direction again. It looks, sounds and feels like there's a strength of feeling and support that, if the action succeeds, might encourage more hard working and hard done by people to stand up and say enough's enough.
But, then again, I'm a Guinness glass half full type. Happy St. Patrick's Day.