Scottish teachers’ ballot for action over pensions

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Scotland’s largest teaching union is to ballot members on industrial action over pension changes.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), which represents 80 per cent of teachers and ­lecturers, said it is consulting with members on possible action if negotiations with the Scottish Government collapse.

In 2011, teachers took strike action for the first time in around 25 years over the issue.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “This decision to hold a consultative ballot on further industrial action is a clear indication that teachers and lecturers are increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress toward a fair negotiated agreement on pensions.

“We have held back from ­further industrial action in order to negotiate in good faith with the Scottish Government towards a Scottish solution on pension provision.

“As time moves on, however, teachers and lecturers are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the process –particularly given the Scottish Government’s apparent willingness to simply replicate changes introduced south of the Border by the coalition government – as evidenced by their decision to impose increased pension contributions on teaching professionals for the second year in succession.” Mr Flanagan said the government need to do more than “talk a good game”.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have been engaged in discussions with teachers’ and employers’ ­representatives on pension ­reform since April 2012 and remain strongly committed to that process.

“The Scottish Government is opposed to the increases to public sector employees’ ­pension contributions. We are required by the UK ­government to implement them in order to avoid a reduction to the ­Scottish ­budget equivalent to the amount they are expected to raise.

“During the past ten months we have actively sought views on the most appropriate way to implement the increases, but as yet have not reached formal agreement on an alternative.

“At present we are ­consulting on extending the increases ­applied in 2012-13, specifically seeking views on how best to protect lower paid workers.

“The Scottish Government remains open to considering any views, evidence or arguments in support of an alternative.”