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Fury as Glasgow lobby is banned

GLASGOW has been accused of using "Tory tactics" and "stifling legitimate dissent" in the increasingly bitter dispute over public-private partnership (PPP) proposals to upgrade the city's 29 secondary schools.

The accusations by teacher unions follow a threat to "deem" teachers in breach of contract if they took part in a lobby, subsequently cancelled, of an education committee meeting yesterday (Thursday). This could have meant loss of a day's pay.

Following a meeting with education officials in December, the Educational Institute of Scotland's Glasgow local association sought talks with senior councillors to discuss their continued concerns. They fear facilities for PE and sports will be hit and some staff work bases and social areas axed.

As part of its campaign, the EIS notified schools of a planned lobby of the education committee on January 13.

In a letter to headteachers before the Christmas holidays, George Gardner, depute director of education, warned that anyone taking part would be "deemed" an unauthorised absentee supporting unofficial industrial action.

"Appropriate action wll be taken by the authority," Mr Gardner wrote.

Willie Hart, secretary of Glasgow EIS, said the planned lobby would have been "non-disruptive" and predicted: "If the authority continues to hold this view in the long term and uses Tory tactics to stifle legitimate dissent and hinder trade union activity, we may have to look at using a formal ballot at an earlier stage. The net result of this would be more disruption."

Mr Hart described the decision of the council not to include the PPP proposals on the agenda of yesterday's meeting as "perverse". "We have been told that all PPP contracts will be signed and sealed by February. At what point will discussion take place?"

The committee's next scheduled meeting is on February 24.

A meeting between EIS officials and senior councillors and education department officials was due to take place yesterday morning.

Glasgow's leadership is as excited by the proposals as the EIS is discontented. It points out that pound;200 million will be poured in over the next 20 months against a normal capital allocation of never more than pound;5 million a year.

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