This has of course not proven the case with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in his handling of the dispute with the rail industry. Nor has it been with Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi who, rather than seek calm mediation with teaching unions, has sought to pour petrol on the fire over the disquiet over pay. Speaking about the likelihood of strike action in the profession,
Mr Zahawi claimed that such a move would be both “unforgiveable” and “irresponsible”.
Such words could be applied to the Education Secretary himself. While he is correct to say that the last thing children need after the pandemic is further disruption to their education, his choice of language shows zero respect for the sacrifices teachers have made over the past two and half years.
Education is close to breaking point and both the recruitment and retention of teachers is at an all time low. And while one can debate the scale of the pay increase the unions are demanding, it should be conducted in a civil manner.
If Mr Zahawi wishes to adopt the same bullish tone as the Transport Secretary has done over the rail strikes, a fresh round of industrial action seems inevitable. This is no longer the 1980s.
Industrial relations need to evolve and if ministers cannot conduct themselves with dignity then they should not be allowed to hold their lofty offices.
Our children’s futures, along with that of the teaching profession, depend upon it.