Teachers and nurses make for a very different picket line to the donkey jacket-wearing strikers of the 1970s – Susan Morrison

Everyone’s on strike. Well, not me. Self-employed, y’see, so not sure exactly how I could do that.

Picket lines in the 1970s were usually a fairly male affair (Picture: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Picket lines in the 1970s were usually a fairly male affair (Picture: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

I suppose I could set up a picket line outside the front door, and drag that old barbeque round to keep me warm as I wave a home-made placard demanding better conditions. It’s not like I don’t have grievances against management. I do.

The coffee is terrible, for one thing. My line manager is rubbish. Poor communication, comrade. Won’t get around the table to negotiate. Sadly, I’m not sure one person actually constitutes an entire picket line.

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In the Seventies, strike picket lines were all donkey jackets, blazing braziers and mostly male. Protest marches were full-throated roaring chants, trade union banners and speakers who, I have to admit, did go on a bit. Even if it was raining.

Years ago, I joined a march in support of nursery staff. It was the most polite protest march I have ever been on, not to mention safest. There were constant cries of “just watch that banner, now, it's drooping” and “careful, you’ll have someone’s eye out with that sign”.

That strike went ahead. It got settled, but I think the government was rattled enough at one point to consider falling back on a solution used some years before when the firefighters went on strike and they called in the army.

Not sure that would work in a nursery setting. When it came down to the 2nd Battalion of The Royal Regiment of Scotland facing nappy changing time for 15 toddlers, most of whom have a tummy bug, I know who my money would be on. No contest.

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Now, with the new wave of industrial unrest sweeping over us, a different picket line is on show. Teachers, nurses and even coffin-makers at the Co-op are all out in neat hi-vis jackets and professional, printed signs.

Everyone seems to be hitting the picket lines. Wouldn’t be surprised if politicians decided to join in, although I’m not sure we’d actually notice. Possibly best not to call the army into that dispute. Cromwell did that. It didn’t end well.