Two cheers from unions on local talks

26th March 2004 at 00:00
The local negotiating committees for teachers (LNCTs) set up in the wake of the post-McCrone agreement received a pass mark last week, but some union representatives feel there is a long way to go before class teachers learn to trust management fully.

A national forum of union and local authority negotiators held in Edinburgh last week to assess the progress of the new arrangements concluded that they are doing reasonably well in establishing positive relationships, but that it is "a slow process".

The level of concern can be illustrated by the fact that one of the issues raised was a "lack of clarity" in some of the circulars issued by the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT).

Circular 26 which deals with holiday pay for temporary teachers and circular 14 on the disappearance of assistant principal and senior teacher posts were singled out in particular.

Circular 14 is a particular problem in Fife where teachers and management are deadlocked. The dispute has been referred to national negotiators.

Drew Morrice, assistant secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland and joint secretary of the SNCT, told The TES Scotland that another issue is whether there needs to be a revision of what matters are retained nationally. "My personal impression is that teachers locally have no desire to add to the list of matters currently devolved to them."

Another experienced EIS negotiator, who did not wish to be named, said that the local committees had been "very helpful" in teaching some local education officers how to negotiate and making them understand the importance of local negotiations.

"However, in spite of the fact that local negotiations have been productive to a degree and a degree of trust is being established at that level, this is not reflected in teachers at large in respect of management generally," he said.

Audit Scotland and HMI are about to undertake a review of the teachers'

agreement, due to report late next year, to see if it is working and delivering value for money.

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