Opinion: One strike is enough

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Teachers feel backed into a corner over a raft of changes planned for their pay, pensions and working conditions and complain that the Government is refusing to enter into meaningful negotiations. The result is today’s one-day strike across South Yorkshire as two unions join forces. It isn’t yet clear how many teachers will take part in the stoppage, but the threat that NUS and NASUWT members could walk out has been enough to cause massive disruption, with only a minority of schools operating normally. Many will have sympathies with the profession’s predicament – few would want to see their retirement age postponed, their pension plans undermined or pay agreements torn up. But the strike weapon needs to be used with great care – thousands of parents are being inconvenienced and pupils are losing education. If further walk-outs are authorised, any support teachers are enjoying could rapidly evaporate.

Company is an example

When an organisation has been around for 390 years, there is every chance that its survival has more to do with being pickled in tradition than having any relevance to a modern age. Not so the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire. In the years since it started out regulating the quality of locally made cutlery, the Cutlers’ Company has repeatedly reinvented itself and is arguably the only Livery Company in the UK that still actively represents its original constituents. But it has become so much more than that. The company is recognised on a national and an international stage as a key voice for British manufacturing. It has created an essential role for itself, revitalising the education, recruitment and future progress of the region’s young engineering talent. In recent years, thanks to successive Masters, the latest of whom is installed today, the Company has become an even more important constituent of the lifeblood of the city and the surrounding region. Long may that continue.