'Prepare for deal' members advised;Educational Institute of Scotland's annual general meeting;Conference

18th June 1999 at 01:00

Neil Munro and David Henderson report from Perth on the Educational Institute of Scotland's annual general meeting. Angry delegates vented their frustration on issues such as pay, conditions, morale and workload.

UNION negotiators are set to conclude the Millennium Review pay and conditions' package over the summer and recommend that members back it when they return after the holidays.

Leaders of the Educational Institute of Scotland made it absolutely clear at their annual conference last weekend that they were on the verge of a negotiated settlement that will end two years of talks with local authority employers and the Government.

Ronnie Smith, in his general secretary's address, accepted there were difficulties for the union and members but warned that refusing a deal that will reform the profession and reward members is "not on".

The deal will would contain details both the union and employers would not like, he said.

Mr Smith, in his first public attempt to persuade members to accept reform, said the EIS recognised that radical change was "necessary and inevitable" and it had not sought to defend the status quo.

"I know that some within the EIS - and more notably, outwith the EIS - would prefer to take a modest pay rise and leave everything else alone. Colleagues, it may be an uncomfortable message, but I have to say that is not on. We cannot simply hold on to what we have."

Mr Smith, however, described some of the employers' proposals as "an ill-thought out rag-bag of ideas" and described as "madness" the plan to increase composite class sizes from 25 to 30. He called for greater clarity on the new professional leader posts and criticised the demand for increases in contractural working hours.

"The scale of change sought is massive, but the resources underpinning it are modest," he cautioned.

Nevertheless, leaders are certain to point out that in any eventual agreement most teachers will see at least an extra pound;3,000 in their pay packets within two years - if they agree to conditions' changes. Some 18,000 unpromoted teachers (40 per cent) who are at the top of their scale could receive up to pound;4,000.

A key selling point is likely to be agreement on conserving salaries of many teachers, particularly promoted staff in secondaries, who would lose out. Primary teachers would benefit by increased promotion prospects, cuts in class contact time and class sizes limited to 30.

Negotiators will emphasise employers have conceded that some posts on the new professional grade will resemble duties of existing guidance staff and that others will have curriculum leadership roles, in effect replacing principal teachers.

Sticking points, likely to be resolved over the summer, centre on the extra hours employers want teachers to work, composite class sizes and additional cash from the Government to smooth the more unacceptable elements.

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