Smith stands firm against enemies of McCrone

David Henderson reports on a rough ride for the leadership at the EIS's annual conference in Dundee.

THE enemies of the McCrone agreement, such as elements of the media and the headteachers' spokesmen, must be faced down, Ronnie Smith said in his general secretary's address.

In a warmly received speech, Mr Smith defended the 35-hour week and the right of teachers to control their workload. Most continued to work beyond 35 hours but there were peaks and troughs. There was nothing remotely professional about working unlimited hours.

"Teachers are working as hard as ever, but the difference is they set the priorities and they now have their hands on one very important lever. And it is for them to pull on that lever whenever they feel that excessive and unreasonable demands are being placed upon them," he said.

However, Eddie Burns, South Lanarkshire, admitted: "I am a clock-watcher. When I'm marking papers on a Wednesday night at 10pm, I'm watching the clock."

Delegates were quick to highlight concerns over the agreement. Malcolm Maciver, salaries convener, stressed that chartered teachers should not be given management duties in return for salary rises. "The agreement is clear and unambiguous. Chartered teacher is a status not a post and does not have any management duty attached to it," Mr Maciver said.

Conference also supported members on temporary contracts - many existing probationers - who are being squeezed out by this August's intake of one-year probationers in guaranteed posts.

A large proportion of temporary teachers are women and there were complaints that they are being discriminated against by authorities which had ended their contracts to create space. Linzi Moore, South Lanarkshire, said a woman on a temporary contract for five years was being ejected to make way for two probationers. "She met me on the stairs in tears."

For once, West Dunbartonshire was hailed as a leader for ensuring that new probationers were additional to the staffing complement.

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