Ballot papers for teachers

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BALLOT papers will be dropping through the letter boxes of Angus members of the EIS, Scotland’s largest teaching union this week in a move which may lead to industrial action among the region’s teaching profession.

Scotland’s largest teaching union states it has been left with no alternative than to ballot its members on the changes to teachers’ conditions of service proposed by COSLA and the Scottish Government.

At the time of going to press on Tuesday (yesterday) it emerged the Angus EIS completely endorses the national recommendation to reject the changes in conditions of service and to vote in favour of industrial action if the current impasse is not resolved.

The EIS is objecting to a proposed cut in sick pay and lower pay for those who stayed on promoted salaries when their posts were abolished 10 years ago.

A two-year salary freeze is also proposed.

Teachers are expected to accept a two year pay freeze and permanent changes in conditions of service in return for an aspiration to limit job losses for just one year. Taken with proposed increases in pension contributions they fear there will be a real and significant reduction in living standards for all teachers. They state the proposals target certain vulnerable groups such as the sick, supply teachers and probationers on the Induction scheme, nor do they guarantee jobs for probationer teachers.

Instead councils are asked to ‘protect the number of teacher posts as far as possible’ and make ‘sufficient posts available for all probationer teachers who achieve the Standard for Full Registration in the summer of 2011.’

The EIS council has now agreed members will be balloted with the process starting next week.

There will be two questions - whether or not members support or reject the COSLA proposals on teacher pay and conditions, and the second part will be an inidicative ballot on whether members would be prepared to take industrial action.

Angus EIS is holding a special general meeting on Wednesday, March 23 at 4.30 pm in Langlands Primary School, Forfar to which all members are invited.

The meeting will be addressed by EIS President Kay Barnett and it is anticipated there will be a large turnout to air questions and concerns.

Earlier this week EIS president Kay Barnett urged members to reject the proposals.

She said: “It is simply unacceptable for the Scottish Government to attempt to force through permanent and damaging changes to teachers’ terms and conditions.”

The possibility of industrial action has caused concern locally as senior pupils prepare for their important Standard, Higher and Advanced Higher exams in May and June.

A full statement from the EIS Angus Association will be featured in next week’s Dispatch and Herald.