Yesterday, I was on strike. I haven’t been on strike before. It wasn’t a decision I took easily but was a considered thought as a result of weighing up the action that I judged to be necessary. I’m glad I was striking and wanted to share some of my perceptions of the day.
I started out early as I had offered to join a picket line outside my place of work. It was a picket line staffed mostly by social workers with a CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse) joining us. We had supplies of banners, leaflets and whistles to hand out to passers-by and those who were going to work.
We had resolved that, knowing the decisions we had each struggled to make, we would not be giving a ‘hard time’ to those who needed to go to work – whether union members or not – and indeed, we had people nipping out to offer us tea, coffee and biscuits during the morning. As for passers-by, they were very supportive save for one person who seemed to drive his car towards us at alarming speed and thought this constituted a ‘joke’. I suspect he regards Jeremy Clarkson as a role model. Continue reading
Before I start, I know that this is a subject that can be tricky. Striking is a personal decision and I respect those who make the decision either to strike or not strike. I will be on strike on Wednesday. I will be standing at a picket line and going to a rally – but I will not, and never will criticise any of my colleagues who take a different decision to me and will not engage in name-calling.
For me, I strike reluctantly and with a heavy heart. I became a social worker because I wanted to work with people and use the skills I can muster to advocate for the people I work with in the ‘systems’ that all too often conspire against them. I don’t want to leave my work behind and down sticks. I enjoy my work and in times such as these when our team is pushed in ways we have never been before due to capacity issues and understaffing, it has been a particularly difficult pill to swallow.
Yes, I am a frontline practitioner. Yes, service users will notice that I am out of the office for a day and not contactable. Will my colleagues deal with emergencies? Yes. That makes me feel worse not better. The union do ‘exempt’ people in the essential roles – we have some AMHPs rota’ed to work through the strike and safeguarding work will continue with duty workers – but ultimately I feel the right to strike is a strong one and if I don’t advocate for myself, how can I, in all honesty, advocate for others effectively. Continue reading