Carrie O'Hara

The pouting and ponderings of a single 30 something year old

Strike action doesn’t work March 15, 2015

Filed under: Education,Politics,Society,Teaching,Work — carrieohara @ 10:47 am

I am teacher. I am a member of Union and I strongly believe in Workers’ Rights. But on Friday I changed unions from one that believed in strike action- although didn’t strike this time, to one that doesn’t.

Strike action doesn’t work.

I think the Trades Union movement is a positive one. Yet, when I began my career, 15 a student teacher we were told that our union, whichever we chose, was there to protect us from litigation: not to protect and champion our rights but to advocate on our behalf, in this compensation crazed culture.

I have been part of ‘industrial action short of strike’ for my entire teaching career: to absolutely no end. There was/is a campaign to get pay parity with other teaching staff across the UK: as a Head of Department I am being short change approximately £11k each year by the treasury, so somebody somewhere owes me and every HoD and Middle Manager a huge sum of money that just doesn’t exist.

Do I think that education is creation of the rest of the economy and as such should be a government spending priority? Absolutely. Do I realise that such capital doesn’t exist in these austere times ( and yes money could be better spent and much more efficiently allocated but it won’t be)? Absolutely. Am I currently, alongside many other public sector workers in the UK financially worse off than I have ever been: as salaries fail to keep pace with increased living costs and we are paying more into pensions to work longer and get less? Absolutely.

On the day that I did strike: teachers and other public sector workers were vilified by social and traditional media. Working parents complained that they had to give up a day’s pay to mind their children: reducing my role to that of a babysitter. I was jepordising my pupils’ education and their well-being. There was limited come back from my union or others. It compromises educational advancement to have a teaching staff that feels so overworked, undermined and under valued that their mental and physical health pays the toll.

There were those at my school, members of the same striking union who went to work on that day of industrial action and faced no union discipline. There was no financial nor working condition gain from that day: I lost a day’s salary and made to feel that I had betrayed the vocation I had spent a decade serving.

Strike action doesn’t work.

My better half works for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service: their strike action was circumnavigated this week by management declaring ‘major incident’ status: meaning staff would be in breach of contract if they didn’t attend work. ‘Major incident’ is the current state of our grossly under funded NHS: the media scaremongered that lives would be put at risk by striking unions: lives are put at risk and lost every day because of a lack of NHS funding.

Strike action doesn’t work.

As a child of Thatcher’s Britain: I have news memories, sharpened by repeated viewings of Billy Elliot and Brassed Off, of the Miners’ Strike. The violence, the endless endurance of mining families and the closure of pit after pit because the government deemed it so. They have the power: we give it to them. These images ingrained upon our social history are significant proof that…

Strike action doesn’t work.

The majority of my extended family are self-employed within the AgriFood business. I constantly rally against the misconceptions of my working hours: they are not 9am-3pm, justify my holidays and try in vain to make the argument for public sector pensions. That my graduate value in education is much less than it could be in certain private sector jobs falls on deaf ears. That I make and have made increasing contributions for less recompense also go ignored.

Strike action is not within the private sector mindset: if my family didn’t work, we didn’t eat (nor, as they are farmers, would the general population). It is regarded as moaning about our lot, instead of working to change it.

Teachers, nurses, ambulance service staff didn’t create the financial global crisis: nor did we really reap the benefits of the boom years- beyond the endless credit alloted to our now negative equity properties: but we will have to shoulder more than our share of the burden of its cost. I don’t understand the complexities of economics but I understand that. Industrial action will not replenish the budget: strike action doesn’t work.

I understand that unions resort to strike action ad the final weapon in their arsenal. I understand that they are driven to a public demonstration of discontent because private demonstrations have resulted in deadlocked status quo. But I also understand that Union ballot turnout is abysmally low: members are disengaged, a small minority vote in industrial action ballots and a smaller number vote for it.

Strike action doesn’t work.

I wish I could offer an alternative to strike action that did work. Proper negotiation seems the most likely: and is the desired outcome of strike action. I sincerely support a means of championing the right of workers across all sectors and the actions of unions in making the workplace a fairer, safer and more productive place to be.


Ray…A Chemical Romance March 8, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carrieohara @ 1:51 pm

This is another painfully wonderful read from Will Lunn. I recognise so much of the man I love and his pain, the pain of another close family member and some of my own. If our pain does indeed make us real, make us human: this is what we need to read Xx


Ray…A Chemical Romance

The body is a temple. A sacred spiritual gift to be treated with care and respect. According to all those well meaning counsellors and self-helpers he had endured over the years….If his body was a temple it was a pretty ancient crumbling example which he was systematically vandalising and destroying. Images online of ISIS wrecking ancient Assyrian sites in what some are calling a cultural war crime. Yeah he was doing the same thing to his so called temple but his semtex and jack hammers all came in convenient tablet form.

Glittering and sparkling in the medicine cabinet like treasure in a Disney cartoon. Venaflaxine antidepressant, one of the new families of SSR  medications. Diazepam 5mg yellow little pills specifically designed to sedate. Sleeping pills both prescription and over the counter. Does what it says on the tin . Paracetemol, cocodamol… He remembers “You got an ology…

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Books Cannot Be Killed By Fire March 2, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carrieohara @ 11:18 pm


The Guardian online posted a typically provocative piece this morning blaming conservatism for the rise in Islamaphobia . Even the most basic grasp of modern history and human psychology is enough to show us how the extreme rhetoric or actions from one religious or political view can radicalise those from an opposing view. To that end I would suggest ISIS is the greatest recruiting sergeant islamaphobia has ever had.

The rise in islamaphobia must surely be attributed to the acts of terror and medieval cruelty being carried out by ISIS on what seems a daily basis. The stoning of women in pits, the hurling of gay men off tall buildings as punishment for simply being gay and public beheadings of numerous hostages….. Not just violence against humans but against culture which to many of us is almost as deeply troubling and the trigger for deep seated soul searching.  Burning books…

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Better half in more ways than one… February 25, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carrieohara @ 9:48 pm

Check out this blog for wit, warmth and human truth. For Script, possible treatments and a burgeoning novel.

If I could actually write, I would want to write like this… Go read Xx


Someone with something to say… September 28, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — carrieohara @ 11:53 am

A new blog for you all to follow: BrianWFerguson | The view from down here … –

The influence of such words may even entice me back to my own overly wordy musings: or alternatively confirm what I’ve always feared: that creatively I’m a meandering Pygmy amongst conquering giants. Xx


Finding light in dark places/ coming back to counting blessings… October 13, 2013

Filed under: Blogging,Faith,family,Love,Me, Myself, I,Teaching,Uncategorized,writing — carrieohara @ 12:45 am

Where did she go? That girl who signed up for and fulfilled the 365 blog? She has attempted and failed at quite a few doppelgängers since…
And while we’re looking for her: where’s the girl who signed into Weight Watchers and lost many, many pounds but is failing miserably (and comfort eating in consequence) to lose that final stone?
Where’s her career ambition? Where’s her passport filled with stamps from the world tour? Where’s the political career? The words, the deeds, the relationships that matter?

Ok: so this is all a tad melodramatic: I don’t think I’ve entirely lost myself but I may have lost my way a little. In the time since I last counted blessings and raged against my apathy, the earth has shifted beneath my feet: but I made an important realisation, even though I stopped acknowledging my blessings, they didn’t disappear.

I’m not learned enough to write a polemic on the nature of human suffering. I rage at its existence and fail to find a God, of any description or creed, in the despair pain and hurt evoke… but I strive and must continue to strive to find the blessings of human grace.

It has been 72 days since I last took stock via blog: and I’ve missed the light that taking the time to give gratitude for grace awarded me. The pedant in me wants to find 72 blessings now to fill the void… A tad over- ambitious (and self-defeating) so instead I will do a catch all.

I love friends who care enough to show they love me too: a humbling thing. I love books and words; poetry and drama (televisual, cinematic and theatrical) for the light, life and understanding of humanity they offer. I love sunlight and rain, coastal walks and the energy they bring and use; the beauty of the earth I get to appreciate. I love having a job that beyond the crazy making minutiae of admin and staff politics and crippling self-doubt: gives me purpose, drive and actual joy.

And my greatest blessing of all: a family who love me and who I get to love: there aren’t words and days to fully quantity that.

If the philosophy I endlessly retweet is to be believed: we’re to value the journey as well as the destination. I will strive to document the glories of the trip: somehow… I will be a better me… or failing that, become better in at accepting the me that’s here now.


Raging against apathy: a pondering ‘lecture’: from me to me. July 27, 2013

Filed under: Me, Myself, I,writing — carrieohara @ 12:20 am

“In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

— by Martin Niemöller, prominent German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor.

I told myself I would write and count my blessings every day and I haven’t: although the blessings and days have been many…

I avoided writing another seething piece on the trouble in North and East Belfast as I’d been there: said that on the 13th July last year and my position hasn’t changed: nor the situation. And I’ve become angry with myself for my lack of action in the interim: can I fix the problem of Belfast’s ‘clash point’ interfaces: and the microcosm it presents of the Partition issue? Probably not. But if everyone thought like that, no progress would ever be made, anywhere.

I told myself I will make a difference. I rage against political and societal apathy and yet ‘apathetic’ is the most apt word to describe so many facets of my life.
I joined a political party but do little more than pay my dues.

I told my best friend I would go to a literary summer school with her and couldn’t/ didn’t make the finance work nor have I penned much more than a re tweet in days.
I told myself that I’m a lover of literature that words enrich my mind and soul and yet.. My long list ‘summer reading list’ is only one book shorter (And the Mountains Echoed was a great read) and for the time I’ve wasted when I could be reading, level 23 is a rather abysmal candy crush achievement.
I promised myself that I will continue on this more health conscious course and lose another 18 pounds, but, I’ve fallen off the diet wagon, failed to climb onboard the running treadmill and this week even managed to find mediocre excuses to allow me to avoid my evening constitutional…
This list could go on.

I too often vow to speak up more: and stay silent. I bemoan to long suffering friends about the ‘stagnation’ of my life: same job, same house, still single… But do little to change any of these status and don’t work hard enough at my acceptance of them…

If the life road we travel has self acceptance as a fundamental destination: self awareness must be an important milestone.( and as I drive this overplayed metaphor to a car crash) I need to revisit a signpost I happened upon. Such sign doth say: You suffer from high expectations. You set yourself too many goals. You use your failure to reach them as fuel in the fire of self-disappointment…

So where does that leave me?

Wanting to write a ‘To Do’ list tempered by reality…
I will:
– write more
– read more
– eat well and exercise
– unearth the school books and do some work

As for my ‘speaking up’: do I find a cause or a charity? Do I do more than pay my party dues? Do I write angry, polemic blogs and tweets and hope someone hears such whisperings?
If a 16 year old who was shot in the head by the Taliban can stand in front of the UN and eloquently demand her cause: surely I (we?) can find courage from somewhere: and lift my voice, my pen, my heart to action.