Use your vote or regret the consequences

3 May

As The Herald put it:

"Scottish teachers will be subjected to a two-year pay freeze and a controversial £45 million package of cuts despite widespread opposition. The negotiating body for teachers has accepted the deal from council body Cosla, even though unions were split. Members of the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA), the NASUWT and Voice unions all voted against the proposals. However, teachers represented by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) narrowly backed the deal in a ballot . Some 56% of union members backed the package."

The actual result of EIS’s ballot of its members on the pay and conditions offer were:
Voting to Accept: 56.2% Voting to Reject: 43.8%

However, Voice has been informed that over 50,000 ballot papers were sent out by EIS (despite the fact that there are only around 52,000 teachers in Scotland) and that the vote was approximately 12,000 for acceptance and approximately 9,000 voting to reject (despite the previous overwhelming rejection of the previous, almost identical, offer by 98% of EIS members who had voted).

That means that significantly less than half of those sent ballot papers actually voted at all and that figure is an even smaller proportion of the 60,593 members for 2010 declared to the Certification Officer by EIS.

As Voice's press release put it "Majority of Scottish Teachers Reject Pay Deal":

“43.8% of EIS members who took part in the ballot, plus Voice, NASUWT and SSTA members all voted to REJECT the revised package yet it has been pushed through. The majority of Scottish teachers rejected the changes to their terms and conditions of service, but the EIS, on a close result of less than half their membership, and COSLA have joined forces to overturn the wishes of the majority of teachers."

As citizens, shareholders, and members of trade unions and mutual financial societies, we are asked to vote in general and local elections, the forthcoming AV Referendum, trade union ballots, directors' elections, AGM resolutions, etc, etc. Yet how many of us don't bother to vote? Even in general elections, significant numbers fail to exercise their democratic right.

Is it apathy? Is it cynicism?

The lesson from the Cosla-EIS deal is that a minority can make a decision that goes against the wishes of the majority.

Teachers, trade union members and the general public take note use your vote or we could all regret the consequences.

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