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Unions warned of dinosaur pay battles

Teachers have lost the pay battle in 25 out of the past 26 years because unions insist on sticking with the legally binding and centralist rules of the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee, it is claimed.

In the most condemnatory submission yet to the millennium review on management and funding of schools, North Lanarkshire argues that wages have only risen significantly above average earnings in the three years when special inquiries recommended higher pay.

"There has been no single occasion in which the negotiating machinery can be said to have secured for teachers a particularly advantageous settlement," the council said. "Indeed, on 25 occasions out of 26, the result has been a shortfall when compared to rises in earnings in other occupations. The effect of a series of such shortfalls is that teacher pay falls significantly behind and ceases to be competitive."

Scottish teachers have fallen further behind colleagues in England and Wales since the pay review body was set up south of the border. Pay there has increased by 24 per cent compared with 20 per cent in Scotland. In five of the six years, the review body has awarded a higher increase. "The total difference is equivalent to an additional year's increase," North Lanarkshire said.

In 1970, average earnings of Scottish teachers and the average pay of male non-manual workers were identical. "However, by 1997, teachers' pay has slipped by almost pound;2,000 a year below the non-manual average. The gap of pound;1,917 amounts to a shortfall of 8.3 per cent," it stated. Conditions of service are said to be no better and the "Byzantine arrangements" offer a "textbook example of the worst kind of restrictive practices".

Ken Wimbor, the Educational Institute of Scotland's assistant secretary, said it was not helpful to become involved in a row over submissions to the millennium review, which was still taking evidence. He said the proposals were similar to those from the Association of Directors of Education.

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