Industrial Action / Strikes
Voice’s policy on Industrial action and advice on what to do during action by other unions
Voice’s Cardinal Rule
is "Members shall not go on strike in any circumstances" . This applies to all Voice members.
Strike action includes any kind of industrial action (including working to rule).
NB: Voice is not affiliated to the S/TUC. Its independent status means that potential members can join straight away. A certificate of clearance is not required from an applicant’s previous union. Although Voice members do not take industrial action, previous involvement in industrial action while a member of another union is not a barrier to membership of Voice.
Industrial action and health & safety
Members have a responsibility for their own health and safety.
If you have reason to suppose that crossing a picket line could cause problems – emotionally or physically – and/or you would find yourself working alone in a building, you should report for work by writing to your line manager in advance, stating that you are available for work but that, for health and safety reasons, you will be working from home, unless alternative premises are available, and that you would be happy to undertake appropriate duties in a safe environment.
Voice’s position on industrial/strike action (from Members’ Handbook):
THE CARDINAL RULE
As an independent trade union and professional organisation, Voice both looks after the interests of its members and works to promote the best possible practice in education and childcare.
We believe that all those involved in education and childcare should make the best interests of children and students their first and overwhelming priority.
Voice is indefatigable in pursuing the resolution of problems through negotiation. We campaign vigorously on national issues and actively support members in difficulties of a local or individual nature. We do not undertake industrial action because we recognise its negativity and the inevitable damage caused to the interests of those for whom we are responsible.
This gives us the principle on which we base our Cardinal Rule, found as Rule 4 of our Constitution, namely:
"Members shall not go on strike in any circumstances".
It applies to all Voice members. Strike action includes any kind of industrial action.
If you would normally work on the day(s) of a strike, tell your manager in writing in advance that you are available for work, if the establishment will be closed.
Members should undertake their own work as reasonably instructed by their head teacher or line manager. ’Own work’ includes contractual duties and any non-contractual duties members would normally undertake.
During industrial action by others, members can be directed to undertake some extra duties, but that direction must be reasonable. This includes members of the support staff who should continue with their own duties and not, for example, cover classes for a teacher who is on strike.
Whilst we do not take industrial action, we respect the right of others to do so.
Members should therefore NOT take up the duties laid down by their colleagues unless circumstances are so special that individual consciences dictate otherwise.
An example might be where the safety of children was jeopardised through industrial action taken by others. Another might be where late action had prevented management arranging for replacement staff so necessitating the cancellation of a national examination.
It is acceptable to say ’No’ to employers/managers in response to unreasonable requirements or instructions. Examples of unreasonableness would include anything endangering the health and safety of a child or student, a colleague, or yourself the member. The imposition of an unreasonable workload would make it appropriate to say ‘No’.
It is often difficult to define ‘reasonableness’ and members may wish to take advice in respect of particular circumstances. Do not hesitate to contact Headquarters at Derby or Edinburgh or a Regional Officer or Field Officer.
Do not remain on the premises alone or in very small numbers if your colleagues withdraw if, on the grounds of health and safety, this would be unwise. Write to your line manager to say that you are available to undertake any tasks that are appropriate and possible, taking into account the exceptional circumstances, and that you would be happy to undertake appropriate duties in a safe environment.
Health and Safety law and school, college and nursery procedures and policies continue to apply. If you are concerned about your health and safety or the health and safety of the children at your workplace, contact Voice immediately for advice.
For further advice and guidance, see: Industrial Action Advice for members
Voice Poster ("Strike?") (pdf)
Alternatives to strike action:
- openly seek opportunities and elected positions to promote Voice policies
- collect petitions
- exploit local and national media and the Internet
- create public platforms
- lobby MPs and councillors
- demonstrate outside working hours
- invoke parental pressure and support
- seek support from governing bodies
- persuade employers to declare their position on issues
- use employment law to register official disputes
- monitor the efficiency and performance of employers
- use your contractual rights to protest against employers which sanction disruption of the children’s education or care.