Unions reject draft deal on pay and conditions

4th March 2011 at 00:00
Election campaigns likely to hinge on the will to protect jobs and salaries

The threat to pay and conditions is now set to dominate the battle for teachers' votes in the Scottish elections.

Members of Scotland's two largest unions have been asked to vote by 22 March - the eve of the election campaign - on whether they would support industrial action over a proposed two-year pay freeze and radical changes to their working conditions.

The EIS and SSTA salaries committees have recommended rejection of the draft agreement proposed by the local authorities' umbrella body Cosla and the Scottish Government.

Drew Morrice, assistant secretary of the EIS, said the offer of a one-year guarantee of some jobs in return for teachers accepting a two-year pay- freeze and permanent concessions on their conditions of service was unacceptable.

Cosla said it had made significant concessions in a number of areas, offering protection of jobs to teachers, which was "more than other sectors in local government would have had".

But it said rejection would force employers to find other means to make savings - leaving the door open for unilaterally-imposed changes on a council-by-council basis.

"If this deal isn't now delivered, councils will have to make alternative plans in order to balance the books. And while these will still undoubtedly protect children's education, they might not go as far in terms of the protection of teachers' jobs," said a spokesman.

Cosla's biggest concession was its agreement that if the number of teachers in Scotland falls below 51,131 in the September 2011 census, then councils could face financial sanctions from the Government.

The figure of 51,131 is still 900 below the latest teacher employment figure - that is the number of jobs Cosla expects to disappear through natural wastage and falling pupil rolls.

Cosla went into the negotiations demanding pound;81 million worth of budget savings - those 900 jobs account for pound;21m of that target.

It still insists councils must achieve pound;60m of education savings, so in a quid pro quo, its five-year delay on withdrawing conserved salaries had to be balanced by a cut in sickness pay.

EIS sources denied rumours in local authority circles of a split within the union over whether or not to recommend rejection.

Both general secretary Ronnie Smith and assistant secretary Drew Morrice said there had been fundamental misunderstandings within Cosla of the union's position - that the final decision would always lie with the salaries committee.

They also criticised the other two parties of the tripartite Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers for their handling of the negotiations.

"While we understand there is a need for cuts, it was plain Cosla was taking advantage of a crisis on the way past to knock down a whole lot of pins that had been annoying them for some time. That kind of mindset makes agreement even less likely," said Mr Smith.

While many teachers will be hoping privately that a new Scottish Government might deliver a more palatable deal, Labour's education spokesman Des McNulty this week refused to commit his party to significant concessions.

"Part of the problem that any incoming government would have in changing things is that the budgets have been set by central and local government - I don't think there is a magic pot of money flying around anywhere," he said.


- If the annual census of teachers in September reports fewer than 51,131 teachers, either the SNCT would revisit the agreement or the Scottish Government could apply a financial sanction on any council;

- A two-year pay freeze;

- The original proposal to withdraw lifetime conservation of pay is delayed by five years;

- The annual leave entitlement is cut to 40 days per annum, with the balance of 26 days redefined as "school closure days" - a response to the Springer case, an EU ruling which meant women could accrue holiday rights on their return to work from maternity leave;

- Chartered teacher salary increments are frozen for a year, with the exception of those already part-way through a module;

- Probationers' class contact time rises from 15.75 to 18.5 hours per week;

- Payment for supply cover of eight days or less will be on Point 1 of the scale and for a maximum of 27.5 hours per week. But, Cosla now offers to pay five hours per week of preparation and correction time;

- Sickness absence pay is cut to 90 per cent for the first six months and 45 per cent for the subsequent six months.


Paying supply at a set rate devalues experience and opens the door to the idea that supply teachers aren't doing "proper teaching", so we may as well get a teaching assistant or cover supervisor in to cover a class when the teacher is off. Vote against it.


Don't fall ill folks. I was led to believe the 90 per cent rule would be for non-certified absences but it's for all. If you need an operation, have it during the summer.


As a supply teacher, on the top grade, with a 22.5-hour teaching week, assuming I get 195 days' pay (fat chance), my possible earning for the year will now be pound;20,205, which is less than a probationer on 18.5 hours. They've not mentioned whether supply teachers will get holiday entitlement either, so prospective earnings could tumble further. Are we worth so little?

v for vendetta

I just started out on the chartered teacher scheme in January to further my career and it is being snatched away from me. It's funny how it was the best thing since sliced bread when it was introduced via the McCrone agreement - now they want to disband it. The whole thing stinks.



  • Original headline: Unions reject draft deal on pay and conditions in run-up to poll

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