Teachers hint at strike action after rejecting deal

SCOTLAND’S largest teaching union has hinted at fresh industrial action after members rejected changes to working conditions linked to a new pay deal.

Teachers have rejected changes to their pay and conditions. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Teachers have rejected changes to their pay and conditions. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Teachers belonging to the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) voted against accepting recommendations of the controversial McCormac report, requiring them to carry out more non-teaching duties in schools.

The ballot result means councils will now withdraw a 1 per cent pay deal backdated to 1 April and improved terms for supply teachers.

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Nearly 60 per cent of voters in the EIS ballot came out against the changes, which would have seen the removal of an agreement safeguarding duties that should and should not be carried out by teachers. Turnout was around 30 per cent.

Under the agreement, teachers are protected from carrying out non-teaching tasks normally carried out by clerical and administrative staff.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, said: “The EIS has been consistent in stating that any proposals arising from discussion of the McCormac report would be subject to a ballot of our members. We have now completed that process and the result is a clear rejection by Scotland’s teachers of the suggested changes to working conditions.

“The EIS is listening to its members and will make teachers’ views known to the management side at the forthcoming meeting of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers.

“Cosla [the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities], the employers’ side of the SNCT, has previously indicated that the 1 per cent pay offer could be withdrawn if teachers rejected changes to working conditions.

“We will be seeking constructive dialogue with both Cosla and Scottish Government on what happens next.”

He added: “The ballot result is indicative of the mood of teachers who, after a two-year pay freeze, increased pension contributions, and in the face of excessive workload, have simply said, ‘Enough is enough’.”

Published in 2011, the McCormac report was written by Professor Gerry McCormac, principal of Stirling University.

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While many of its recommendations were uncontroversial, teachers feared the removal of an agreed list of duties, and a list of tasks that “should not be routinely carried out by teachers”, would result in extra work.

Separate proposals around more flexible working patterns mean some teachers may be required to spend more time in front of a class one week, but they would be able to claim that time back the following week.

Councillor Billy Hendry, Cosla’s HR spokesman, said: “As employers, we have put together the very best components of an offer in agreement with the unions and Scottish Government. The offer is a package and is not open to any of the three parties to cherry pick the bits they like best and reject the rest.”

Education Secretary Mike Russell added: “I am disappointed that EIS members have voted to reject the proposals. Obviously the Scottish Negotiating

Committee for Teachers will have to look at this matter as a matter of urgency when they meet today.”