EDUCATION Secretary John Swinney is under fire over claims he is “undermining” the trade unions over the teachers’ pay dispute.
Leaked correspondence shows that the SNP Government and COSLA, which represents Local authorities, are considering writing to teachers directly about the latest pay offer.
However, Educational Institute of Scotland general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “Teachers will see this as a gross interference in the democratic processes of the trade unions.”
A tripartite body made up of the Scottish Government, council representatives and union negotiators exists to hammer out pay deals for teachers.
However, the group has failed to reach an agreement as the Government and COSLA have refused to meet the unions’ demand for a 10% rise for all teachers.
An initial proposal would have meant teachers who earn up to £36,500 receiving a 3% rise, but this was revised so that it applied to everyone who earned up to £80,000.
Another £25m was found for a wider “restructuring” of the main grade scale, which was aimed at improving recruitment and retention. Education sources said a combination of the two elements would result in some teachers getting in excess of 10%.
However, the EIS has recommended that its members reject the pay offer in a consultative ballot and the union will stage a national demonstration in support of the 10% claim on Saturday.
It has now emerged that COSLA and the Government are preparing to go over the heads of the teaching unions by communicating to staff on a one-to-one basis.
In an email from COSLA to council chief executives, the umbrella group stated:
“The Scottish Government has approached COSLA with a view to co-producing and co-signing.. a joint letter to all teachers and school leadership setting out the merits and value of the current pay offer.”
It added: “This initiative is intended to provide teachers and school leadership with clear and concise information about the pay offer and allow individual teachers to easily work out what the offer means for them. This is felt necessary to counter partial and misinformation appearing in the press and other media released by the EIS in particular….”
The email added: “To enable teachers and school leadership to make an informed decision when participating in their forthcoming ballot(s)….a letter has been drafted and is currently with Mr Swinney.”
Council leaders will discuss the letter proposal at a meeting tomorrow.
A source said: “This is an extraordinary attempt by John Swinney to undermine industrial relations with the teaching unions and comes just days before the EIS national demonstration this Saturday in Glasgow.
“The Scottish Government cannot write to teachers without the support of COSLA and individual Councils. COSLA should play no part in the Scottish Government’s attack on trade unions and their right to communicate their position on pay to their membership.”
A COSLA spokesperson said: “Nothing at all has been agreed with COSLA – indeed nothing can be agreed with us until any suggestion or proposal has been approved by our governance structures in this case Council Leaders tomorrow.”
The Scottish Government has been asked for a comment.
Source : HeraldScotland