Job-sizing in the dock

18th January 2008 at 00:00
Teachers have been forced to make 'considerable sacrifices' following their national agreement.

Teachers have lost "millions of pounds" as a result of the job-sizing of promoted posts, last year's president of the Educational Institute of Scotland has claimed.

The admission from the leader of a union which has been a vocal champion of job-sizing, carried out as part of the 2001 teachers' agreement, is at the centre of an extraordinary row which has broken out in the EIS over allegations of secrecy in pay levels for the union's officials.

A letter has been circulated to schools across Scotland by Peter Quigley, outlining a string of allegations over the conduct of EIS business, including claims he was thwarted when he tried to challenge the lack of scrutiny over the way the union fixes the salaries of its officials. In his letter, he states: "In the five salary settlements between 2003 and 2007, teachers lost millions of pounds through job-sizing."

Mr Quigley, an EIS area secretary in Fife, also argues that union members had to make considerable sacrifices in terms and conditions as a result of the national teachers' agreement. Although Mr Quigley is widely seen in EIS circles as a maverick, his dramatic interpretation of events was seized upon by headteachers' leaders. The Headteachers' Association of Scotland and the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland, representing secondary and primary heads, have been calling for some time for job-sizing to be reviewed.

Greg Dempster, general secretary of the AHDS, says Mr Quigley's intervention appears to back the headteachers' case. "It is significant coming from one of the EIS leading lights," he says.

The HAS has condemned the impact of job-sizing which it says has "locked many teachers into outdated evaluations". Both associations believe it has hamstrung the promoted post structure, as teachers do not want to move jobs because they will lose their conserved salaries, while those who do change jobs become disheartened because they end up on less pay.

Mr Quigley has linked his claims about job-sizing to the way EIS officials' salary levels are decided. He points out that the union's general secretary is paid on the basis of a long-standing formula which gives the postholder a salary of 12.5 per cent above that of the highest-paid headteacher. Ronnie Smith, the current incumbent, earns pound;86,520 as a result, with assistant secretaries on 70 per cent of that.

But, Mr Quigley argues, while these union posts are linked to headteacher salaries, they have not been subject to the same job-sizing exercise. Despite the "millions" teachers have lost, "the general secretary and EIS officials lost nothing," he contends.

He points to a transfer of pound;100,000 from the EIS general fund to the staff pension fund which he claims was necessitated, in part, by officials' salary settlements.

Mr Smith has denied all Mr Quigley's allegations and declared: "The EIS complies with all statutory requirements regarding both its accounts and the reporting of the general secretary's salary, which is published annually and sent to every member at their home address.

"The accounts are reported fully to the annual general meeting and are subject to professional audit and returned to and published by the certification officer."

In a bizarre twist, Mr Quigley is now accusing the union's leadership of falsely claiming he has resigned from his position as ex-president, comparing the way he has been treated to "the inmates of Guantanamo Bay".

The EIS, however, quotes a letter he wrote to the current president, Kirsty Devaney, on September 28 last year, in which he said: "I am stepping down as a national office-bearer until such time as answers to my questions, together with appropriate legal advice, are presented to council."

But Mr Quigley contends that, if he had intended to resign, he would have had formally to notify the general secretary rather than write to the president.

The row has led Mr Quigley to complain to the Privy Council in London, on the grounds that the union may be in breach of its Royal Charter. Since he is no longer regarded as an office-bearer, it also caused him to miss out on talks with the Education Secretary and forced a meeting of the EIS executive to be abandoned last week when he refused to leave.

The EIS has now set up a special committee, made up of three former presidents who are no longer on the EIS council, to rule on whether or not Mr Quigley has resigned.

Despite the "millions" teachers have lost, "the general secretary and EIS officials lost nothing," he states.

He points to a transfer of pound;100,000 from the EIS general fund to the staff pension fund which he claims was necessitated, in part, by officials' salary settlements.

Mr Smith has denied all Mr Quigley's allegations and declared: "The EIS complies with all statutory requirements regarding its accounts and the reporting of the general secretary's salary, which is published annually and sent to every member's home address. The accounts are reported fully to the annual general meeting and are subject to professional audit and returned to and published by the certification officer."

In a bizarre twist, Mr Quigley is now accusing the union's leadership of falsely claiming he has resigned from his position as ex-president, comparing the way he has been treated to "the inmates of Guantanamo Bay".

The EIS, however, quotes a letter he wrote to the president, Kirsty Devaney, on September 28 last year, in which he said: "I am stepping down as a national office-bearer until such time as answers to my questions, together with appropriate legal advice, are presented to council."

But Mr Quigley contends that, if he had intended to resign, he would have had formally to notify the general secretary rather than write to the president.

The row has led Mr Quigley to complain to the Privy Council in London, on the grounds that the union may be in breach of its Royal Charter. Since he is no longer regarded as an office-bearer, it also caused him to miss out on talks with the Education Secretary and forced a meeting of the EIS executive to be abandoned last week when he refused to leave.

The EIS has now set up a special committee, made up of three former presidents who are no longer on the EIS council, to rule on whether or not Mr Quigley has resigned.

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