Creative protest?

Back in around 1975 I attended meetings where Jack Munday, Australian building workers’ union leader spoke.  He had led the Green Bans, an environmentally orientated form of industrial action to stop damaging building projects.   That example is sadly rather unusual.  UK anti-union legislation outlaws solidarity action, for example.  Another inspiring TU action from that period was Scottish workers refusing to service the engines of the fighter jets that bombed the Chilean presidential palace, La Moneda, in the coup against Popular Unity.
This coming week one daughter will have to use her last unplanned day of annual leave because teachers are striking at her daughter’s school.  The other daughter is  a primary school teacher (in a different part of the country).  I think I see it from both sides – teachers, along with other public sector workers are striking against the Cameron coup regime’s policies – for example on retirement and pensions.  They want to defend public services – but is this the way to do it?
Trade Unionists really need to think of more creative ways of taking action.  Oh we’ll go on strike, we’ll have a march.  That hurts parents and children, not the government.  Better to run the school as a  creche for the day, inviting parents in and partying against austerity.  Hold a teach-in in every school hall.  Don’t do any teaching and no marking, but understand that you also provide child care.  Stop the traffic after the school day finishes.  Occupy council chambers in places with a Tory majority in local government.   Protest needs to be innovative, surprising, creative, disrupting of stereotypes and not the predictable tactics appropriate to a long gone industrial plant.  I’m sure the trade unions can do better – and they must, to stop dead the contnuing privatisation and destruction of public services.  That depends on affirming, not compromising the ethic of public service – in ways that take the moral high ground rather than, as the planned strikes look set to do, give the Tories fuel for populist anti-worker posturing and new anti-union laws.

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