How to demotivate employees
The biggest challenge that government faces is coming to the realisation that forcing people to work is not a solution. This is especially true for those job descriptions which really require a passion for the vocation to be effective things such as nursing and teaching.
Anybody who has been to school (and at least some of our legislators must have seen the inside of a classroom at some point) will know that the level of attention that the children give to their schoolwork is highly dependent on the level of attention given to the children by the teachers.
It’s a team-effort scenario where both the pupil and the teacher need to be dedicated and motivated for any lasting good to come from the experience.
Speaking to schoolchildren, it is plain that most are not particularly thrilled to be at school for the schoolwork, and they look forward to the socialising instead. While parents are best placed to motivate children to want to learn, while the children are at school they rely on teachers to keep the children focused on learning the things they will not get a chance to learn again – unless they repeat of course. A demotivated teacher is not an asset.
Who cannot remember a teacher who so obviously hated their job that it was always painful to go to their classes and you spent the whole lesson waiting for it to end?
Now the whole school system is going to be filled with those types of teachers and government’s haphazard approach to slashing salaries has not helped. While some striking teachers have allegedly received full pay, many of those who stayed in the trenches while their colleagues hit the streets were also affected.
Government’s slap-dash attempt to fix things retroactively is another recipe for disaster – if they couldn’t slash the right salaries, what make them think they can refund the right ones?
Shaking public confidence
Whether the teachers’ salaries are refunded or not, it will take so much time that it won’t earn back any of the lost goodwill. And goodwill is the one coin that government is most certainly bankrupt of.
A large part of this issue is about respect, the mutual respect that should exist between those who make the rules and those who have to live by them.
Showing respect largely entails being seen to make an attempt to listen to the other party and, if necessary, compromise. By asking for (or demanding) a 4.5 per cent increase, the teachers were sticking to the law and showing a willingness to be reasonable.
If government had made an offer, even for as little as two per cent, there is no reason to think that the teachers would not have gone for it (and if they hadn’t, at least government could claim to have tried to compromise).
Insisting instead that there would be no increments for three years, declaring the strike illegal, invoking the ‘no-work-no-pay’ rule and threatening to fire teachers all send the message that government doesn’t care about the living conditions of the teachers or the learning conditions of the pupils and doesn’t want to hear any more about it.
What would have been so wrong about engaging the teachers in dialogue and making the dialogues open to public scrutiny? That way the public could judge for themselves whether or not the unions were acting within their labour mandate or were straying into political issues better left alone.
Government needs to realise that the streets are not the battlefield here the field of public opinion is and both the teachers and the government are struggling for moral legitimacy on these grounds.
Nor has government shown any signs of remorse for the way it has mishandled this whole matter, causing more outrage with provocative and adamant statements at the very moments that needed understanding words and actions.
So the teachers may be back in classrooms but the pot is still on the boil and we will see these problems again in the near future, only magnified by the time spent simmering.
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