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Employers make direct appeal over pay talks

Cosla bypasses unions and addresses teachers via the media

Cosla bypasses unions and addresses teachers via the media

The employers' side in the teachers' pay talks has taken the unprecedented step of going over the union representatives' heads and making a direct appeal to teachers via the press.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has today taken out a full- page advertisement in TESS (p9) and sent open letters to some of the main Scottish daily newspapers, urging teachers to accept the proposed deal and ignore their unions' recommendation of rejection.

Cosla sets out to "debunk the myths" it says teachers have been told, such as:

- councils do not value their teaching workforce;

- there are no guarantees that teacher numbers will be protected;

- the deal has been done without trade union involvement;

- councils are taking more savings than are actually needed;

- they can wait until after the McCormac review (of the teachers' agreement) before making changes.

It argues, instead, that it is only asking teachers to agree to the same pay freeze as other council workers and to changes to "a small number of conditions".

It states that "at no point did the negotiations break down" and that the unions helped mould the draft agreement.

"The trade unions encouraged discussion on changes to sickness absence provisions, so it is disingenuous of them to express outrage that these are now being proposed," says Cosla.

Waiting until the McCormac committee has reported would put at risk more jobs and services, warns Cosla.

Drew Morrice, assistant secretary of the EIS, in turn accused Cosla of being "disingenuous". The EIS had never said the talks had "broken down", he said, contrary to Cosla's claims; its negotiators had always made clear they had to take the proposals to the committees empowered to reach decisions.

Councils were seeking permanent changes to conditions of service and a two-year pay freeze, while only proposing to give job guarantees for a single session. "The symmetry of what is proposed is not attractive to the unions," Mr Morrice said.

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