EIS has failed to protect us

24th June 2011 at 01:00

The EIS leadership stated that a 57 per cent turnout was not a mandate for action and that members must become more active to ensure a high turnout in the second ballot. So, many of us did, starting a small reject campaign that exploded in the face of the official advice to accept despite the destructive outcomes for many of our weaker members. Bizarrely, a smaller turnout in the second ballot then became compelling evidence for accepting a divisive deal that is now the defining legacy of the current EIS leadership.

We trusted the EIS to protect us. It failed. When Alan Munro said in TESS (10 June): "I don't lose a lot of time concerning myself about what I see as a fringe activity which is motivated by people who don't have the interests of our members at heart", he seemed to confirm that there is an arrogant class of EIS members who see themselves as being above the "small people" in our union. He doesn't sound likely to lose any sleep over the collateral damage suffered by supply, conserved and chartered staff.

I cannot recall a time in our history when such a remote and narcissistic leadership has deliberately cast ordinary and vulnerable members adrift. Whatever the outcome, and despite the shifting statistical narrative about what a mandate is, the recent campaign has been shameful, damaging and strategically unbalanced.

ADES and Cosla now seem to view teachers as the main culprits for the alleged failure of their educational policies. And it seems this failure must be punished with a longer working year, a longer working day and a greater responsibility on individual teachers to find high-quality CPD in what is, frankly, a CPD-free environment.

If there is an absence of alternative strategy, the EIS should not blame hard-working teachers who are too busy helping our children learn. It should not blame a lack of turnout, when it is quite happy to seize an even lower turnout as a mandate for its advice. It should blame the club culture at the top of Scottish education, blame an organisation where the will to protect the weak is frowned upon as "old politics". Once blame has been allocated correctly, then it should consider how teachers can be best represented.

If Alan Munro does not feel up to the job of leading, protecting and promoting Scottish teachers, he should consider who might be able to. If the thought of standing up for all teachers to defend education and EIS members' pay and conditions is too scary for him, he should do the right thing and resign.

Paul Cochrane, EIS and activist for ReclaimEIS, Grants Way, Paisley.

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