Scottish council accused of 'intimidating' teachers with 'strike-breaking tactics'

Fife Council has been accused of “intimidating strike-breaking tactics” after warning teachers covering for colleagues in future strike action may result in disciplinary action.

The Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association and the NASUWT trade union are set to conduct strike action in Fife Council’s local authority area on Thursday December 8.

Ahead of the strikes, the EIS and AHDS unions have signalled to its members that they must not provide cover for striking colleagues, prompting Fife Council to write to teachers explaining it expects teachers to follow “a reasonable instruction” to provide cover.

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The letter sent to teachers falls short of threatening disciplinary action, but does imply disciplinary action could be taken over future strikes.

Teachers are due to strike later this week

The letter reads: “Fife Council does expect that teachers not participating in industrial action follow a reasonable instruction when asked to provide cover.

“However, at this time we will not pursue formal action against employees who choose not to cover for colleagues next week.”

Despite this, the letter warns that future strike action may not be exempt: “It should be noted that Fife Council will not necessarily refrain from formal action against any employee breaching their employment contract in relation to any subsequent industrial action and does reserve the right to reconsider its position on this matter before further strike action planned for January 2023.”

Andrea Bradley, EIS General Secretary, said: “It is shameful that, rather than seeking to resolve the current pay dispute through negotiation, some aggressive Scottish local authorities are resorting to intimidatory strike-breaking tactics that are reminiscent of the Thatcher-era UK government.

“The EIS believes that it is unreasonable to expect EIS members to be instructed to strike break for colleagues of another trade union carrying out official industrial action in a common dispute.

“The notion that any teacher could be deemed as not performing their contractual duties because they refuse to carry out the work of a striking colleague, in addition to doing their own job, is completely unacceptable and flies in the face of the Fair Work principles to which local authorities are signed up.

“The EIS will offer its full support to any member who is subjected to this type of intimidation by their employer.”

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