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We have to communicate

Speaking on behalf of the Edinburgh College executive, regional chair Ian McKay indulges his inner pugilist at the precise moment when cool negotiating heads are most critical (News Focus, 1 March).

By accusing EIS reps of "paralysis" combined with having our "fingers in our ears", he makes an assumption often favoured by those who find themselves in positions of authority; that the very human desire for just and dignified workplaces is a demand that falls outside the more realistic expectations consistent with "public opinion".

Staff and pupils would love to see his data, given that some often think of themselves as members of this self-same public who, in their own workplaces, expect the circumstances of their employment to facilitate rather than undermine their ability to perform to their full potential.

The EIS has been trying to have a meaningful dialogue but has been blocked by a management that clearly has a different agenda. At the point of merger, the management withdrew its own document recognising the importance of that dialogue (the Recognition and Procedures Agreement) and substituted a new one that is, in effect, impossible to implement.

Although branch representatives with heavy teaching loads now operate across four different campuses, management is cutting time available to them, making it impossible for the union to operate as it should. The Staff Association has been offered twice as much time.

If EIS reps can communicate to Edinburgh College management a better understanding of staff concerns over the protections articulated in the "best practice" we are mandated to seek, and if we can also be granted the remission time commensurate with the escalating demands of the regionalisation process, then all of us can return to what we do best - delivering the lifeline of FE to diverse local communities.

Mike Cowley, branch convener on behalf of the Edinburgh College EIS committee.

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