Vote to reject pay offer
The decision by the EIS union to recommend its members accept the revised offer on pay and conditions from Cosla and the outgoing SNP government took its members by complete surprise. That astonishment quickly turned to anger when they realised just how little the proposals had been revised.
Ninety-eight per cent of the EIS members who voted rejected the original proposal, which remains almost entirely intact, and 85 per cent said they were prepared to take the last resort of industrial action if necessary.
The anger has found a new forum on Facebook. Debate is buzzing on the official EIS page and even more are turning to the unofficial Reject EIS page, which is gaining more supporters every day.
The EIS is throwing all its resources into winning this ballot and its arguments will be sent directly to every member's home. However, I would like to set out seven simple arguments to convince EIS members to reject the deal and force their leaders to think again.
First, a two-year pay freeze is a pay cut for every teacher, perhaps as much as 10 per cent in real terms. Just think about inflation, increased VAT and fuel price increases.
Second, the supply proposals are simply unacceptable; one calculation puts the pay cut for an experienced teacher at 47 per cent. Supply teachers will be paid at the bottom of the pay scale and for only six hours each day for the first five days - they may not get a sixth day.
Third, there is no real guarantee of jobs. This year's census records 52,031 teachers in employment, so the target 51,131 in the next census is actually a loss of 900 jobs. In the last four years, 2,873 jobs have been culled. Can we afford to lose another 900?
Fourth, many vulnerable groups will suffer under this deal, especially teachers on maternity or sick leave, probationers and those who earned conserved salaries. All of these benefits, which were considered just, could now be lost forever, as could the chartered teacher scheme.
Fifth, the EIS has used the excuse of low turnout to justify its volte- face. Turnout was 57 per cent - more than in the last Scottish election - but that doesn't mean that 43 per cent liked the original proposals.
Sixth, there is no crisis of overspending on public services. There was a banking crisis, but as the EIS campaign slogan says, "Why must our children pay?" Our working conditions are their learning environments.
Finally, there is an alternative. An alternative economic policy could invest in education and other public services to support growth and prosperity in the future. If the politicians won't change, the massive TUC march has shown that people are ready to resist. The EIS had a taste of this recently in a dispute with Renfrewshire council, where an industrial action ballot in concert with a parents' campaign won the day.
Andrew Fullwood, EIS Council (in a personal capacity), Rodil Avenue, Glasgow.