This week is to be one of the most difficult for public service workers in Sheffield due to today’s strike.
Millions faced the dilemma about whether to strike for the first time in their lives. This involved tremendous soul searching and most people will only take this action with an incredibly heavy heart.
Many choose to work in public services in order to help others. They value fairness and want to offer hope and practical help to people who are underprivileged, vulnerable and often reliant on public services. They understand that striking will impact people who most need their help. Striking is a last resort - to makes one’s voice heard, when one’s employer, in this case the Government, refuses to listen.
Individuals know going on strike means losing a day’s pay which puts a strain on budgets. A decision to strike may cause strains at home and with colleagues.
Some not in employment or with poor working conditions may not feel sympathetic towards the strike.
Anyone deciding to strike understands they are fortunate to have a job at this time of rapidly increasing unemployment, an empathy absent in the Government or boardrooms.
Finally, despite the undoubted impact of the strike, public service unions and professional bodies are taking a responsible stance. The unions are ensuring that the ‘life and limb’ services are maintained and many public servants who feel very strongly about this will be working, not because they oppose the strike but because they are protecting vulnerable people. They will be ensuring A&E is open, hospital wards and care homes are staffed with nurses and support staff, social workers and nurses will provide approved mental health practitioner cover and ambulances will respond to emergencies.
Many of those continuing to work do so not in support of the Government’s policy but to ensure safe services with the endorsement of the trade union movement.