'Unpaid' principal teachers lose case

2nd August 1996 at 01:00
Around 500 teachers across Scotland who are claiming extra payments for carrying out the duties of a principal teacher have had their hopes dramatically dashed in the Court of Session. Councils hailed the ruling as "a victory for common sense" that will save up to Pounds 20 million in back pay.

The judgment by Lords Ross, Cowie and Weir in favour of Strathclyde Region and its 12 successor authorities overturns two previous victories by the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association at an industrial tribunal and the Employment Appeals' Tribunal.

The judges, who heard the final appeal by the councils in mid-June, have ruled that previous judgments misinterpreted the Equal Pay Act 1970, which the union used to bring a test case on behalf of 10 women members in Strathclyde.

The women were carrying out a principal teacher's work when no principal had been appointed and used male comparators to prove their case. The SSTA blamed Strathclyde's promoted post structure and the region's complex points system.

Craig Duncan, acting SSTA general secretary, said: "Obviously I am a bit gutted about the whole thing because the original decisions were so favourable. We will be seeking counsel's opinion about whether to appeal to the House of Lords and the decision will be made in late August."

The union will now incur substantial costs and even more if it appeals. But Mr Duncan said that would not be a factor in its decision. The Educational Institute of Scotland, along with the SSTA, is backing the cases of hundreds of secondary teachers.

Mr Duncan said: "The substance of our case has not been damaged by this and it is quite clear the present promoted post structure and the way people are asked to work cannot continue. We will have every justification to raise this as a matter of negotiation for the future."

Ian McPherson, the solicitor acting for the 12 councils, said: "I am absolutely delighted by the result. Along with counsel, I will be reviewing the judgment for other cases. There are implications that need to be addressed across Scotland because there are hundreds and hundreds of equal pay cases. "

Mr McPherson said the Court of Session's judgment could also have an effect on special school instructors in Strathclyde who have claimed parity with special education teachers. The industrial tribunal that ruled in the instructors' favour took the SSTA test case into account in reaching its judgment, Mr McPherson said.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today