AROUND 5,000 school pupils in one local authority area have been affected by strike action today.
Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) in West Dunbartonshire are striking over restructuring plans which they say will cut the number of senior teaching posts.
The move by the country’s largest teaching union has led to the closure of five secondary schools in the region for one day.
The council said it was saddened by the action and apologised to pupils and parents over the disruption caused.
The EIS said the council’s plans will reduce the number of depute headteacher posts, cut principal teacher posts from subject departments and cut the number of pastoral care posts in each of the authority’s secondary schools.
The union recently balloted its secondary members in West Dunbartonshire on the proposals and said 88 per cent of those voting supported the move to industrial action.
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said the strike was focused on the “workload implications” of the proposed changes.
He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “Over the last two years, with the introduction of the new qualifications, the level of workload intensity has been well recorded across the country.
“The management proposals which West Dunbartonshire Council have come up with essentially remove a number of management post but don’t remove the work.
“The view of the majority of our members is that that work will trickle down to main grade teachers and intensify the workload pressures, which are already regarded as being unsustainable.
“So, that’s why we’ve arrived at a situation where 88% of our members voted in favour of strike action for the first time in over 30 years.”
Asked how many pupils were affected by the action, the council’s head of educational services Terry Lanagan told the show: “There’s around 5,000 pupils in our five secondary schools.
“The new structures are very much in line with the structures which exist in most Scottish local authorities and are more closely tied to the Curriculum for Excellence than the structure which we currently have.”
A council spokesman said: “West Dunbartonshire Council would first like to apologise to pupils and parents over the disruption this one-day strike is causing them.
“We would like to reassure them that we are continuing to do everything we can to find solutions that can bring this matter to an end as quickly as possible.
“We are saddened that the EIS is going ahead with its strike.
“We met with senior union officials three days ago to try to avoid the need for strike action and presented a package of nine new measures that would address the issue of workload at our secondary schools.
“We also offered to work with Acas - the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service - to resolve this through negotiation. Unfortunately, EIS was unwilling to postpone the strike action.”