Pay dispute set to grind on

5th February 1999 at 00:00
UNIONS AND local authorities were letting the dust settle this week following the confusion surrounding the complexities of their continuing negotiations.

Both sides said they were keen to remain in negotiation. This is despite the denunciation by the Educational Institute of Scotland whose executive council last Friday was unanimous in its "furious" rejection of an "insulting pay and conditions offer".

"They have rejected something on which we haven't even started negotiating," Elizabeth Maginnis, convener of the management side, said.

The EIS was joined by the three smaller unions, which are all sticking to their long-standing suspicion of any pay deal affecting their conditions.

The idea of parallel talks, in which pay and conditions are negotiated separately as happened in 1986-87 at the end of the last industrial dispute, is now likely to be revived by the unions.

The EIS has already decided to table a "no-strings" 8 per cent salary claim at the next meeting of the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee on February 23. The institute will also draw up "counter-proposals" to answer the management's modernisation plans, which the authorities regard as flexible and the unions reject as divisive.

The unions are united in suspecting the Labour-run authorities and Government of operating a political agenda inherited from England, which regards performance-related pay and "superteachers" as essential for a profession whose working practices the management regards as restrictive and unaccountable.

The acceptance in England and Wales of the pay review body's recommendation of a 3.5 per cent award for teachers and up to 9.5 per cent per cent for some heads will have done nothing to assuage their unease.

News that Scottish Office ministers intend to hold consultations over the future of the SJNC, which could sweep away binding national agreements, has also poisoned the atmosphere. The EIS says this amounts to "little more than blackmail".

The unions, however, believe that the arrival of a Scottish parliament and the prospect of local council elections on May 6 which could sweep away some of the key management players both point to the wisdom of playing a longer-term game.

English scales, page six

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