More than 250 Strathclyde teachers on long-term temporary contracts who were promised permanent posts last year have been warned that the new unitary authorities may not be willing or able to take them on.
The teachers, whose position is likely to be replicated in other authorities, were effectively told by Strathclyde's education committee on Wednesday that their fate will be determined by the region's 12 successor councils whose hands may be tied by legal and financial obstacles. Conflicting legal opinion between the region and the Educational Institute of Scotland has so far delayed a resolution.
Drew Morrice, EIS convener in Strathclyde, said there was a "deep sense of frustration" among the teachers and accused the region of reneging on its commitment.
The union appeared to have won a long-running battle to secure permanent appointments until the region sought legal advice about the transfer of staff under local government reform. David Dunbar, Strathclyde's depute director of education, said he had been advised that appointing such staff permanently would be contrary to the Local Government and Housing Act which states that all appointments must be on merit.
Mr Morrice said the EIS would be seeking further legal advice, particularly about the requirement to have open competition for posts held by teachers on temporary contracts. He believed that teachers who had been in post for more than two years and enjoyed employment protection rights ought to be considered on merit.
Frank Pignatelli, Strathclyde's director of education, urged new authorities to honour the teachers' accrued service but acknowledged that they "could easily take the view that all games are off." Mr Pignatelli added: "It would be quite brutal but it is a distinct possibility. Someone who has accrued 200 days in the past may not be the best person."
Chris Mason, leader of the Liberal Democrats on the regional council, agreed there was no legal basis to compel new authorities to employ teachers who have been on temporary contracts. "It is all a question of goodwill and ethics. "