To read the Scottish media, you'd think that the latest negotiations on pay and conditions for teachers in Scotland were a done deal, with talk of "acceptance likely" and unions "reaching a deal".
According to an SNP press of 23rd March, "Education Secretary Michael Russell welcomed the outcome of the teacher pay negotiations and expressed his hope that the new proposals will now be ratified by councils and teaching unions after the latest meeting of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) reached agreement on a new pay and conditions package "
At that meeting of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) on 23 March, a slightly revised set of proposals was presented that did not, in Voice's view, materially change the 28 February package. Voice voted not to accept the proposals, along with NASUWT, while the SSTA abstained. Surprisingly, the EIS, the largest teaching union in Scotland, is recommending that its members should accept the package.
When Voice asked its members for their views on the 28 February offer, 97% of respondents said 'no' to accepting the overall package of proposed changes to Teachers' pay and conditions.
Some of the individual proposals were accepted, but Voice members, including their representatives on Voice's Scottish Executive (SEC), remain concerned about issues such as:
- the proposed pay freeze
- conservation for promoted post-holders appointed before 1 April 2001
- annual leave
- supply teachers' pay; and
- the proposals regarding sickness.
There was also a feeling that the McCormac Review was underway and members are concerned that if these proposals are accepted then there will be more to follow when McCormac reports and that all the hard fought terms and conditions achieved at the time of McCrone will be lost forever; this, combined with the proposed pension changes, is considered to set back the profession to the “bad old days”.
The threatened McCrone agreement is tri-partite, negotiated in the spirit of collegiality. The Scottish Government and Cosla have tried to impose changes without fully explaining the implications and, in Cosla's case, by trying to persuade teachers to accept these flawed proposals through an advertisement that made a number of incorrect statements.
Although the EIS is recommending that its members should accept the package, many of its members seem distinctly unhappy with this idea and have set up a "Reject EIS" campaign group on Twitter and Facebook. It is even making allegations about "a private meeting" between EIS and Alex Salmond.
The outcome of the negotiations is far from certain. Further details and updates can be found at www.voicetheunion.org.uk/snctpcp.
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