For union bosses to be considered good at their job they need well-developed moaning skills. It is not enough to moan, but they also have to have the ability to find things, no matter how trite, to moan about, which seems to be what really impresses their members. Nobody does this better than the teaching union bosses who specialise in taking a triviality and turning it into an issue of major educational importance.
In the last year, for example, teaching unions have made a big issue out of the lack of air-conditioning in some classrooms, the absence of fencing around schools and who would be responsible for opening the school gate if a visitor wanted to go in. Two years ago, the unions were demonstrating in the streets and threatening an indefinite strike because the education ministry wanted teachers to do an extra teaching hour per week.
Therefore, nobody could have been surprised by the way they had been moaning about the re-opening of the schools, which they had tried to prevent, finding fault with everything that had been done. On Monday, the first day back for final year students, the assistant general secretary of Oelmek Themis Polyviou complained that the classrooms had not been sprayed with disinfectant as had happened in Greece. Was this really an issue, considering schools had been empty for two months and furniture had been disinfected?
Predictably, the students union Psem, showing it was following the moaning example set by teachers, moaned because there was dust on desks and students had to wipe it off. Psem also complained because there was not an adequate stock of masks and plastic gloves for all students at the schools and because, worse still, students had to change classrooms for lessons! They also moaned about the buses and the timetable.
Polyviou also had to declare that online teaching constituted a violation of personal data, a point also made by the students, before moaning that teaching half the students online and half in class was discriminatory. All this is laughable but it illustrates the appallingly negative attitudes unions are cultivating. Instead of encouraging a positive ‘can do’ approach they are doing the exact opposite, finding fault with everything and passing the message of abject negativity on to impressionable children.
The country has been in lockdown for two months, the gradual return to normality has started and the opening of schools is part of this process. We would have expected teachers to be helping this process, acknowledging the small difficulties at schools in order to assert their commitment to overcoming them, to show that as a society we are not afraid of a little adversity. And students would also have adopted this ‘can do’ approach, if their teachers were capable of setting a good example.
Instead, our unionised teachers are turning us into a country of moaning minnies.