Main worry is the loss of children’s education

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READERS of this column will know that I am not in favour of strikes.

I believe that in a strike situation there are very few, if any, winners on either side by the time the strike ends.

Workers who strike always lose wages and often respect. Employers lose profits and are therefore less able to meet increased demands of pay and conditions from the strikers.

We all know by now, unless you have just come back from the planet Mars (and if you have I would be glad to interview you), that up to a million workers (the figures are disputed on both sides) came out on strike last week.

Courts, job centres, driving examination centres, other public offices and of course some of our schools were badly hit and many had to close.

It is well documented that the country is in a financial mess.

Whether it was caused by the bankers or by the global collapse is still being argued about but certainly changes will have to be made in all walks of life if we are not going to go down the same road as the Greeks.

But what I was really interested in when teachers came out on strike was the attitude of parents.

The majority of those I heard being interviewed on the TV and radio or in the press seemed to be more concerned that they had to take a day off school to look after their children or had been inconvenienced in some way, rather than what I would have considered would have been their main focus of concern – that being the loss of education for their children.

That, after all, is the role of schools in our society.

They are not there as a second home so that parents can go out and earn extra cash while Johnny or Jenny are being looked after by teachers.

We all know that we are on the run down to the summer holidays but education is education. Some will say that one day’s missed education is neither here nor there.

But we are told that this was the first in a rolling programme of strikes if the demands of the strikers are not met or the government proposals are not amended.

One day might not be that important but a rolling programme of strikes threatened in the autumn will certainly affect the education of children where their teachers have walked out or unless a settlement is reached.

THE abject winter weather of late last year, the thick snow of last November and December and the freezing temperatures that came with it is already a distant memory.

Everywhere was hit in some way or another but it certainly halted the essential repair work on the A1 road bridge, which takes traffic over the Shilbottle and A1 south slip road.

As I crawled into town the other day at less than 40 miles an hour, I thought back and recalled the sign at the side of the A1 at the time.

Work will start here on ... I can’t remember the exact date, but I do remember it saying it will be completed by June 2011.

June has come and gone yet the workmen are still busy underneath, behind their screens at the bridge.

I am told that when work started it was found that the structure was in such a poor state of repair that it would take longer than thought.

I have heard a whisper that the money allocated to the work has run out and only half the job will be completed this time round and they’ll have to come back and disrupt our lives again at a later date.

One of my Friday night regular companions claims that it would have been quicker to have erected a new bridge than it has taken to repair this one.

Not being an engineer I could not argue (most unlike me), but he does seem to have a point.