Thursday, December 06, 2012

A warning shot

Earlier in the year, the government announced plans to close schools across Christchurch, in what seems to be a crude attempt to use the earthquake there as an excuse to create a market for its substandard charter schools. The plans have attracted widespread opposition from the public, not helped by the Ministry of Education's contemptuous attitude towards the "consultation" process (which isn't). And now, Christchurch teachers have voted overwhelmingly to strike in response to the proposals.

The strike would apparently be illegal, thanks to the NeoLiberal paradigm which still infects our employment legislation, and the Ministry of Education could gain an injunction preventing it. That didn't matter to the teachers - which should be taken as a serious danger signal by the Ministry. If people are angry enough to vote for an "illegal" strike, they're angry enough to tell the courts to go fuck themselves and evade injunctions by, say, all getting "sick" (something impossible to prove false, and just as effective and disruptive as a strike). And they'll have the full backing on the community in doing so. The Ministry needs to back off, suspend its closure plan, and start again from scratch with real consultation. Sadly, I suspect that's the last thing on National's mind.