16 Jul 2008

Picket Line blues

Had this comment on a post I put on socialist unity blog...needs thinking about, any more tales from the picket line folks.

I’ve just got back from a half hearted UNISON picket line at a School in Bromsgrove
Worcestershire…[and thankfully their was no sign of any 'royal' family. However, several UNISON members decided to act in an 'autocratic' fashion which I think needs to be discussed.
Despite the fact that the picket was at the rear of the school [the staff car park]
a group of about 20 mainly ‘bad boys’ who are basically ‘failed’ by the school came round nervously and tentatively… Basically they wanted to support the picket and were testing the water. I handed one of the lads a “Offical Picket” sign and offered to take a photo in a light hearted fashion… his face started to beam with a great smile at this moment of ‘inclusion’ ‘recognition’ or whatever when the UNISON rep literally shouted “NO! We don’t want the kids involved”…. ‘especially not them’.

It saddens me deeply, that our schools are tragically continuing to label and engage in heartless ’Skinnerist’ behavioural modification regimes primarily aimed at boys that seem to further undermine their self esteem and drive them onto the margins of the system.

This group of working class lads most of them the product of re combined families with problematic or non exsistent relationships with biological fathers…. relationships with mothers who have exposed them too or committed acts of violence against them… who have been left to their own devises since a very young age… These lads tentatively came towards a group of ‘Strikers’ in the hope that there might be some "common ground" and a chance of solidarity against a system that seeks to crush their spirit and individuality….

and they were rejected and excluded yet again.
This group of lads are all ‘at risk of offending' some of them it is 'rumoured' are already involved in 'gangs' and 'knife crime'.... interestingly enough the 'rumours' are completely unsubstanciated by any evidence.

In my minds eye I imagine another scenario where the overwhelmingly female picket line welcomes the spontaneous act solidarity from the male school students where a discussion about the reality of the world of ‘work’ is initiated and where these lads who have no sense of purpose or hope are give a taste of a future of solidarity in struggle for a fairer more just society.

School Students should be encouraged to organise and to express their feelings and if they want to show support for industrial action by school support staff those staff should welcome them with open arms. Surely this is an issue of 'democratic rights' or are 'democratic rights' the exclusive preserve of those over the age of 18 years??

One of the saddest things about this group of lads who wanted to join the strike… is that they have all been encouraged by their overwhelmingly female ‘educators’ [both qualified teaching staff and Teaching Assistants and 'Behavioural Support' workers to opt out of any academic timetables and literally ‘pushed’ [ie cajolled, manipulated] into ‘construction courses’ where they are given safety boots and farmed out as ‘labourers’ to local building firms when there is no work they are ‘timetabled’ to stay at home [usually alone] killing people on Xbox or Playstation.

Some of them are enthusiastic about the prospect of actually ‘building homes’ especially as most of them live in overcrowded ‘homes’ themselves. However, the sad reality of the currrent recession is that the chances of the these lads actually getting ‘construction’ jobs in the private sector is zero. Some of them express the desire to join the ‘Army’….I have tried to point out that Afganistan is not like ‘call of duty’ on the X Box and that when you are shot you actually do die! [perhaps this desire to 'fight' is not 'reactionary' but a natural reaction to being subjected to injustice?]

Sisters and bothers! Do not be suprised if lads like those who were rejected by a small and rather pointless picket line at a Bromsgrove School end up stabbing someone or joining the BNP. Our ‘movement’ is to a large extent complict in the marginalisation of these lads… 'Feminism' in the way it has been distorted by a triumphant imperialism views lads like those at a Bromsgrove school as ’scum’…. If you treat people like scum don’t be suprised if they treat you like scum in return.

Stop bullying our kids.

Charlotte Badger

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