Rallying call to teachers

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THE Angus local association of the Educational Institute of Scotland has issued a rallying call to its members to attend a meeting in Langlands Primary School next Wednesday afternoon and to participate in a national ballot.

David Drysdale and Phil Jackson, on behalf of the EIS local Assocation, issued a joint statement saying the Angus EIS fully supports the national recommendation that teachers reject the package of proposed changes by the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to teachers’ pay and conditions.

They said: “These proposed changes were formulated without proper consultation or negotiation on a take it or leave it basis and are completely unacceptable. Angus teachers are also urged to join their colleagues around the country in indicating their willingness to take some form of industrial action so that proper consultation between all three parties, including Scottish teachers can be restored.

“Ever since the letter went out from John Swinney and Pat Waters in November, councils have been put in the position of having to agree to the imposition of not only a two year pay freeze but also deteriorations in conditions of service such as sick pay provision.

“In return a vague commitment on jobs for probationer teachers has been given (‘as far as possible’) for one year only, completely disregarding the plight of other teachers who can’t find a job with whom probationers will have to compete for the posts that are available. The proposed changes will also begin to undo the improvements made over recent decades that help maintain the high standards of education enjoyed by young people across Scotland. These changes are part of a series of cuts to education budgets that threaten to seriously undermine the ability of teachers to deliver high quality education.

“Along with all the other public sector trade unions we cannot stand idly by while children, the vulnerable and the elderly pay the price for the financial greed and recklessness of others.”

They state the education budget in Angus, along with other departmental budgets such as Social Work, faces cuts of 10% over the next three years while the banking sector “rewards itself with increases in pay and bonuses. “

They continue: “Bonuses which are paid regardless of success or failure while others lose jobs, have their pay frozen or see decades of progress in their conditions of service removed at a stroke.

“While we have worked with the Director of Education to ensure front-line services are protected and teacher numbers are maintained, at least for the coming year, we must also accept that this is only the start of a period of years that will inevitably see the budget cuts in education impact negatively on the young people of Angus. The demoralising effects of the proposed conditions of service changes would be a further blow to the education service.

“In conclusion, Angus EIS asks all its members to participate in the ballot and send out a resounding message to COSLA and the Scottish Government that the proposed package of changes is completely unacceptable and that all three sides, teachers, the Scottish Government and COSLA, need to find a better way forward. We hope to see as many members as possible at the special general meeting at Langlands Primary in Forfar to be addressed by EIS national President Kay Barnett on Wednesday, March 23 at 4.30 pm.”

A spokesperson for Angus Council said: “We would seek to minimise the impact of any industrial action, but that, at this stage, we have no indication of the likelihood or nature of such action in Angus schools.”