Schools in West Dunbartonshire are being hit by strikes today and tomorrow, in a continuing dispute over cuts to principal teachers – who usually work as heads of department – in the authority’s secondary schools.
The protest is thought to be the first of its kind; there has never before been a strike in one local authority area alone in Scotland. Nationally, Scottish teachers haven’t been on strike in 30 years, barring one day of action over pensions in 2011.
The walk-out follows two days of strike action earlier this year by members of the EIS teaching union over attempts to cut pastoral care staff and introduce a faculty system to West Dunbartonshire schools.
Faculty structures, which bring together several subjects under one faculty leader, have existed in large swathes of Scotland for several years. However, the EIS argues, the system is not yet proven to work.
'Determined to stand firm'
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “EIS members in West Dunbartonshire are determined to stand firm against the authority’s plans to cut principal teacher posts in secondary schools. These changes would have a detrimental impact on the operation of secondary school departments, and a negative effect on learning and teaching activity in secondary schools.”
The industrial action follows the overwhelming rejection of a revised council proposal by EIS members in a recent ballot.
According to the council the “significant package of concessions” would have “introduced an additional 18 principal teachers and two centrally deployed staff”.
A West Dunbartonshire Council spokesperson said: “We are doing everything we can to resolve this dispute… It’s important to note that 54 per cent of secondary school staff have not supported this action.”