Supply teachers' pay cut

17th February 2012 at 00:00

In my dream, I was a plumber and received an emergency callout to EIS headquarters. I was welcomed by a buoyant Mr Flanagan, who enquired as to my terms. I told him there were no travel expenses or emergency call-out charge to be met - just the standard rates reflecting my experience. He baulked at that and offered to pay me at first-year apprentice rates for 43 minutes of every hour I was on the premises, claiming the "new rate" was nothing to do with him.

On waking, I was reminded of a union which, 15 years ago, engaged a Queen's Counsel to fight a proposed 2 per cent pay cut across the board by another large organisation with headquarters in Edinburgh, although it only employed a tiny number of teachers in its workforce - on the grounds that we could not be expected to work for less than the nationally-agreed minimum wage.

The EIS claims to have been protecting teachers' rights and conditions for nigh on 160 years. So why the pathetic performance recently?

A little pressure could be applied by refusing supply in your subject area and part-days, putting a limit on commuting distance and only working until you reach your tax-free allowance. Once that is reached, I am expected to absorb a 55 per cent spot-rate pay cut.

There may be dignity in work, but also in refusing to work for a 55 per cent pay cut. Would the oligarchs in head office and the 57 per cent of members who were persuaded that this was a good idea turn up for work tomorrow for almost half-pay?

I wish Mr Flanagan every success in his new post, with all its rewards, and trust he can restore some backbone and clear direction to solving the supply teacher crisis.

Russell Crawford, Barvas, Lewis.

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