Scotland - Unions seek deal on staffing in new swine flu wave

25th September 2009 at 01:00

Teaching unions and local authority employers are in talks to reach a deal that could allow teachers to exceed class-size and working-hours limits in the event of a second wave of swine flu.

In return, the teachers' side of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) is seeking protection and guarantees for staff who have to care for members of their own family, have underlying health problems or are pregnant - conditions that make them more vulnerable to the H1N1 virus.

The first round of negotiations took place this week amid concerns that a handful of authorities were drawing up emergency plans that would allow them to move teachers to other council jobs to keep essential services operating.

Drew Morrice, assistant secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), said the SNCT had reached a broad agreement that teachers could not be required to carry out the duties of other staff.

He said the EIS's position was that any redirection of the workforce should be a decision taken at Scottish government level, not by individual councils.

"Only the Government can judge the scale of that kind of emergency," Mr Morrice said.

"If emergency powers are being introduced, it must be the same playing field for everyone."

The talks were prompted by the change in Scottish national policy on how to handle another serious outbreak of H1N1. KM.

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