NASUWT votes for industrial action over pay deal

20th May 2011 at 01:00
Union joins SSTA in opposition to the national agreement

Scottish members of the NASUWT teachers' union voted unanimously last week to take industrial action in protest at changes to their working conditions.

Local association representatives passed an "urgency" motion, at the union's annual general meeting in Edinburgh, to put in place a rolling programme of industrial action in co-ordination with other unions.

The result means that both the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association and NASUWT - Scotland's second and third-largest unions respectively - have embarked upon a campaign of opposition to the national agreement, which won the support of a narrow majority of EIS members last month.

NASUWT delegates agreed to pursue legal action, lobby all MSPs and publicise to parents and the public the adverse impact the Cosla-led changes would have upon education.

Jane Peckham, Scotland organiser of the NASUWT, told TESS the union was also seeking legal advice to establish ways to campaign for a "root and branch review of the flawed pay and conditions negotiating machinery" - the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers.

"It is completely unjust that pay can be frozen, salaries slashed and the terms and conditions needed to secure high standards of education can be changed through such a dysfunctional process," she said.

The union's national general secretary, Chris Keates, added that teachers had been singled out and discriminated against in a "deliberate, calculated and unwarranted manner" to balance the books of the Scottish Government. "The angry response from teachers across the country is entirely justified," she said.

Delegates also backed motions highlighting concerns that: many local authorities are reducing their spending on services for pupils with additional support needs; class sizes have increased; and budget and curricular decisions could lead to an increase in teacher workload.

Vowing to campaign for more effective health, safety and welfare management, the union backed another motion which sought to overturn the current classification of schools as "low-risk workplaces".

`What's the big issue for you?'

TESS asked SSTA and NASUWT members what mattered to them at their annual conferences last week.

Colin Turner, support for learning teacher, Dumfries and Galloway, SSTA

"The changes to conditions and services are a danger to professionalism - teachers' conditions of service are pupils' conditions of learning. This is a watershed moment."

Liz McMillan, Orkney, SSTA

"The uncertainty about the NAR (national assessment resource), and the time implications - the whole issue of downloading and uploading and ensuring it's going to be meaningful across the whole of Scotland."

Maurice Randall, RME teacher, Argyll and Bute, SSTA

"What's happening to supply teachers seems to have really rallied people together."

Joanne Logan, primary teacher, North Lanarkshire, NASUWT

"The big issues are conditions of employment because they affect the future of the profession and they also lower morale. I have only been in the profession a few years and I am already wondering if it's worth it."

John Melville, chemistry and guidance teacher, Fife, NASUWT

"The problem is the Coalition Government cuts we are being asked to pay for. We are paying for the failure of the banks."

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