Teach­ers to strike be­fore ex­ams day

The Galloway News - - NEWS -

JACKIE GRANT Dum­fries and Gal­loway teach­ers are pre­par­ing to join the first na­tional strike since the Eight­ies.

And they could stage a walk­out just a day be­fore the be­gin­ning of cru­cial ex­ams.

The Ed­u­ca­tional In­sti­tute of Scot­land union for­mally re­jected a pay of­fer by Holy­rood ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter John Swin­ney on Tues­day, said to be worth nine per cent by April with a fur­ther three per cent next year.

EIS mem­bers voted 57 per cent to 43 per cent to turn it down.

They have de­manded a oneyear, 10 per cent rise, ar­gu­ing that teach­ers have re­ceived be­low­in­fla­tion in­creases in the past few years.

Union of­fi­cials have rec­om­mended teach­ers now stage a statu­tory bal­lot for in­dus­trial ac­tion on March 11 with a po­ten­tial walk­out on April 24. Higher, Ad­vanced Higher and Na­tional 5 ex­ams are due to start on April 25.

Teach­ers last staged strike ac­tion in the 1980s when they tar­geted Con­ser­va­tive con­stituen­cies in an at­tack on the Tory govern­ment.

EIS gen­eral sec­re­tary Larry Flana­gan said af­ter a ne­go­ti­at­ing meet­ing yes­ter­day: “At the meet­ing, we pre­sented the re­cent EIS bal­lot re­sult and in­di­cated our in­tended move to a statu­tory bal­lot for strike ac­tion.

“This pro­vides clear ev­i­dence of the need for the other par­ties to im­prove the of­fer in or­der to gain ac­cep­tance from teach­ers. We also re­it­er­ated that the EIS is con­tin­u­ing to seek a ne­go­ti­ated set­tle­ment, that we were will­ing to meet at any time and that strike ac­tion would be a last re­sort.”

Mr Flana­gan con­tin­ued: “Both COSLA and the Scot­tish Govern­ment con­firmed that they were keen to keep talk­ing and that they too wished to see an agree­ment be­ing achieved. All sides agreed to re­flect on the is­sues raised and to meet again next Mon­day.”

The coun­cil um­brella body CoSLA and the Scot­tish govern­ment have both said that they want to see a ne­go­ti­ated set­tle­ment.

They have de­scribed the ex­ist­ing pay of­fer as the most gen­er­ous in the UK pub­lic sec­tor but in­di­cated they were open to find­ing ways of deal­ing with is­sues such as teacher work­load.

Mr Swin­ney said: “In­dus­trial ac­tion in any of our schools would not be in the in­ter­est of teach­ers, young peo­ple or par­ents.”

De­spite sched­ul­ing a walk­out the day be­fore ex­ams, Dum­fries EIS sec­re­tary An­drew O’Hal­lo­ran said he be­lieves teach­ers have the back­ing and sym­pa­thy of mem­bers of the pub­lic.

He added: “No-one wants to take in­dus­trial ac­tion but teach­ers feel the sit­u­a­tion has been go­ing on and on and we’re at the end of our tether.

“With­draw­ing their labour is be­com­ing the only op­tion for teach­ers to try to par­tially re­store their lost earn­ings and al­le­vi­ate the sit­u­a­tion.

“Teach­ing is be­com­ing an ever less at­trac­tive ca­reer prospect, par­tic­u­larly in ru­ral ar­eas like Dum­fries and Gal­loway.

“When­ever there’s in­dus­trial ac­tion in a school, it does have an im­pact. How­ever, we’re try­ing to re­duce the im­pact on pupils as much as pos­si­ble but also make a point at the same time.”

Of­fer Min­is­ter John Swin­ney

Sup­port Jim Poole and Monique Na­jafi had their wed­ding in the mu­seum

Back­ing An­drew O’Hal­lo­ran

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