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Cosla advert 'got it wrong'

Cosla's advert in TESS last week is incorrect about the ballots. Voice, the union for education professionals, presented the proposals to its members, asking for their views in order to inform its executive committee and SNCT representative. It did not tell members whether to accept or reject the package.

The advert states "we will guarantee jobs" and "we will incur a penalty if we fail to achieve these promises". There are no guarantees. The proposals state: "if the annual census of teachers. reports fewer than 51,131 FTE. agreement would be revisited. including the possibility of reversion to the status quo ante OR the Scottish Government. may seek to apply a sanction. provided that it is absolutely clear that council's actions have materially contributed to the failure".

If lifetime conservation (of promoted salaries) is ended, teachers who have been receiving it would receive cash conservation, but no percentage increases, for five years - effectively a five-year pay freeze. There would also be pension implications. This is not reflected in Cosla's advert.

Indeed, Cosla states that changing sickness absence entitlement would "have minimal impact". This is a fundamental change which would penalise teachers for being ill and put them under pressure to work when unfit to do so. The description "minimal" is unjustified.

Cosla should not dismiss experienced supply teachers' expertise by saying those on short-term supply "are not expected to take on the same responsibilities". Supply teachers should be valued and not suffer financially because they are experienced.

The threatened McCrone agreement is tri-partite, negotiated in the spirit of collegiality. The Scottish Government and Cosla have tried to impose changes without fully explaining the implications and, in Cosla's case, by trying to persuade teachers to accept these flawed proposals.

Maureen Laing, senior professional officer (Scotland), Voice, Edinburgh.

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