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When the talking has to start;Jotter

THOSE who believe the national forum that fixes teachers' pay and conditions to be an endless talking shop have it completely wrong.

There is, of course, endless talk but that tends to take place "behind the chair" - ie between the leadership of the Educational Institute of Scotland and the local authorities, or separately within the union and management sides.

So when does the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee live up to its name? You may well ask.

According to one participant at last Friday's discussions: "The unions went in and sat down. The management side presented its proposals. The unions received them and then went away. That is pretty well a verbatim account of the meeting."

It doesn't seem the two sides are really that far apart, if only they would actually negotiate. In his address to the EIS's annual conference, general secretary Ronnie Smith condemned the management's proposals as "an ill-thought out ragbag of ideas".

By chance the newsletter of the Scottish School Board Association has just landed on our desk containing a stiff condemnation from Danny McCafferty, the education authorities' leader, who says teachers "have often taken the brunt of ill-thought out, bureaucratic and mechanistic reforms". Perhaps these two chaps should get together.

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