EIS must beware arrogance

10th June 2011 at 01:00

The reaction of the EIS General Secretary to the loss of membership (TESS, 20 May) is regrettable. It seems to highlight the arrogance which caused many of the defections in the first place.

Ronnie Smith's assertion that the EIS has seen "an increase in both members leaving and applying to join" might well be misleading. We doubt whether the recent decision of the EIS to accept the offer from Cosla has attracted any teachers to the union. Much more likely is that students leaving colleges of education are joining because the EIS is simply the best-known Scottish teachers' union. They too may defect when they learn of the agreement "won" for them by the EIS.

We represent an EIS branch with 68 members - out of 87 staff. Three members are retiring from the profession; 40 others are retiring from the EIS. This will leave an EIS branch of 25 members. None of this is as a result of "poaching" from "smaller unions", as Mr Smith suggests. It has been caused by the union `s refusal to defend teachers' living standards. Mr Smith suggests that those who leave the EIS will "ultimately" be disappointed. We are already disappointed, and very angry, with the EIS.

We agree entirely with Mr Smith that teachers' interests would be much more effectively represented through a single, united organisation. Unfortunately, the EIS is no longer a united organisation.

May we, respectfully, suggest that Mr Smith take a close look at the performance of the Scottish Labour Party in the recent Holyrood elections? From a position of seeming invincibility, a mixture of arrogance, indifference to its electors, and an unwillingness to listen has all but wiped it out. Will the same fate eventually befall the EIS?

Margaret Kelly, Jim Lafferty, Gerry Menlove, St Maurice's High EIS branch, Cumbernauld.

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