Union suspends work-to-contract campaign

12th October 2012 at 01:00
SSTA says move is `demonstration of good faith' during pensions dispute

The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association took colleagues by surprise this week by announcing the suspension of its work-to-contract campaign with immediate effect.

Acting general secretary Alan McKenzie said the decision had been taken as "a demonstration of good faith in the attempt by the Scottish government to broker an acceptsable Scottish solution to the public-sector pensions dispute".

He told TESS the action was "hurting communities and kids in Scotland" who were governed by the Scottish government, when in fact the "enemy" was the Westminster government.

Members had contacted SSTA officials expressing concern that their work- to-contract was having an impact on extra-curricular activities and the union's executive did not want to see a repeat of the "last big work-to- contract in the 1980s", after which teachers did not go back to organising football and other sporting or leisure clubs.

But Mike Corbett, president of NASUWT Scotland, which is also operating a work-to-contract on pensions and pay and working conditions, said there was "no immediate prospect of an acceptable offer to Scottish teachers on pensions".

He added: "As far as NASUWT Scotland is concerned, the extras which teachers give to the job voluntarily are not properly acknowledged or recognised as it is. Our work-to-contract, where teachers focus on their core duties, will therefore continue until the government gives Scottish teachers a fair deal."

A spokesman for the EIS said: "Decisions taken by fellow trade unions are a matter for those unions and their members. The EIS position with regard to pensions remains unchanged - we have entered into discussions with the Scottish government in good faith in an attempt to reach a suitable Scottish agreement on teachers' pensions. The EIS remains committed to the campaign to defend teachers' pensions, and we retain the option of further industrial action - including strike action - should a negotiated agreement not be reached."

EIS assistant secretary Drew Morrice said the union was holding a watching brief on two issues: whether the Scottish government could ease the impact of UK government plans to raise the retirement age (and pension entitlement linkage) to 68 and proposed contribution increases for 2013-14 and 2014-15.

The Westminster government is expected to make an announcement on contribution increases towards the end of this month, with the Scottish government unlikely to issue its own response until early November.

John Stodter, general secretary of education directors' body ADES, said he had "not heard a peep" from any of his members suggesting the work-to- contract by either the SSTA or NASUWT was having an impact on schools. School Leaders Scotland general secretary Ken Cunningham said no issues had been drawn to his attention either.

elizabeth.buie@tess.co.uk.

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