Part 79: Thursday 27th July 1961, 8.10 pm

Barnsbury struck. I arrived at Camden Rd. in the morning, we had assembly as usual and I was going up with the kids to the classroom when an announcement came over the loud speakers telling all boys to re-assemble in the hall. The kids told me that the staff at Eden Grove had gone on strike. After about five minutes I found I was the only master left in the hall. I went up to the staff-room, where Leece, Bath and Leff of Eden Grove had arrived to tell a hastily convened meeting of the Camden Road staff that they (the Eden Grove staff) had in fact gone on strike and sent the boys home. They wanted to know whether or not we would follow suit. They wanted to know whether or not we would follow suit. To my surprise a majority voted in favour and the kids were sent home. I feel rather depressed about the whole thing myself, but must admire the determination shown by the Eden Grove instigators.

Background to the “strike”. N.U.T. asked for basic of 700-1300… A good many teachers, myself included, thought privately that the authorities’ offer was not too bad…

As I say, I find it very hard to come down on one side or other of the strike fence. There is the question a) Is it morally right to strike? and b) If the answer to a) is “yes”, would a teachers’ strike benefit a) me, b) other teachers?

As regards question a), I have always maintained that where non-essential services are concerned, people engaged in them have a perfect moral right to strike. Thus, when the London busmen went on strike, I never queried their moral right to do so. They provided an amenity – not, as the fortnight’s strike showed –  a vital service. But  where health or education is concerned … I feel an “effective” strike – as opposed to one-day “token” strikes – is morally reprehensible.

And then question b), expediency. It is questionable whether individual teachers would benefit financially when the battle was over but as Madley, Senior Master in the Lower School said, one was striking to make a stand, to demonstrate that one could not always “take it out of the teachers.”…

Fortunately, the ankle-buttock trouble has considerably lessened. It is still there, but viable without codein. But I haven’t had the strain of the two evening classes.

The other day I received an unexpected translating commission – from [a firm] calling itself Universal Advertising Ltd – to translate an article in Hebrew on times of planting carthamine (had never heard of it before, had you H.L.?), חריע in Hebrew. £14-4-0 gross for about 8-10 hours work. Forty jobs a year like that, no evening classes, and we could have a decent holiday every year, maintain the house and garden with paid labour to a high standard, and E. could have a woman in for three hours twice a week. Just, on the proposed new 600-1200 scales.


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