Mike Treen of Unite Union sends me a link: A South African couple, newly graduated with teaching degrees, are hired by a South Auckland school but are refused residency visas because their pay is too low for them to qualify as skilled migrants. Bizarre.
But the government’s intransigence over teachers’ pay and conditions is increasingly bizarre. Instead of meeting the demands – especially the condition demands – they are throwing money at general categories of mental health and domestic violence. Both are globally causative – where do you start? Well, let’s have an advertising campaign…
Already, schools and teachers are in the thick of these issues, together with nutrition, equal opportunity, gender equality, inclusiveness, physical fitness, value formation, resilience, bullying prevention, tiriti education, environmental education, numeracy, literacy and creativity, technological preparedness … and are overworked and underfunded. That minister(s) is the point.
I know a young teacher who’s been teaching for a decade, A great teacher, active in the union as well, works six days a week, ten hour days, sometimes twelve; hopeful that Labour would bring some changes, and now the realisation that the industrial action is going nowhere without something extreme, like an indefinite stoppage (which many teachers can’t afford). It leaves a bitterness – I can sense it – a central hurt, a disenchantment, which will make it harder to face the daily encounter with twenty seven kids in the process of becoming citizens. This in turn will lead to a withdrawal, a look for some other employment – and the loss of yet another teacher.
Why is the government being so bloody dumb. And so bloody pompous? Are they simply jealous that teachers are more effectively involved in government than they are?
Perhaps the answer is that, at heart, this government have chosen to be philanthropists. Philanthropy and capitalism go hand in hand. Leave capitalism to the capitalists (with some minor adjustments) and let a left of centre government be philanthropic – it’s a smiley, feel good impulse. But it will run out of steam, become increasingly shrill, before disappearing into the celebrity wastebasket and the mafia will take over once more.
Whereas socialism is a re-ordering of economic and social relations, with the state playing a central role. Of course that re-ordering can take place at arms’ length, with the state providing the funds, but it is different from the philanthropic urge, which is proving so inane in the field of housing, so intransigent in education and so ineffectual in the field of health.
Only with the climate crisis, thanks to the Greens, do they seem willing to try and tackle an issue …