Teachers in Scotland call for ballot over pay and workload

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Scotland’s biggest teaching union has threatened strike action next year over pay, workload and pensions, amid claims that some young teachers are taking on extra jobs to get by.

Delegates at the Educational Institute of Scotland’s (EIS) annual general meeting in Perth last week were also scathing of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) for the way new exams have been rolled out, saying it has caused intense stress to staff and pupils.

Charles McKinnon, from the EIS’s Glasgow local association, said: “We have been told pay levels are at an acceptable level, but when you have young teachers working as bar staff and taxi drivers that is clearly not the case.

“We are paying for an economic crisis that was not of our own making and we have got to be determined to ... take action.”

Teachers unanimously backed motions calling for ballots on strike action to cut workload, improve pay and amend pensions changes.

A one per cent pay rise in 2014 and a further one per cent back-dated to last year, in line with other public sector workers, has left overall salaries still falling in real terms, according to the EIS.

Probationers now get £22,000 a year and fully qualified teachers are paid £26,000 in their first year. The most a classroom teacher can earn is almost £35,000.

Hugh Donnelly, secretary of the Glasgow local association, added: “Pay matters for the status of our profession and we have to believe we are worth it and take significant action to get it.”

Teachers spoke of colleagues in tears, struggling with the new National qualifications, which replaced Standard Grade this summer. Some pupils were taking more than 40 assessments, delegates said.

EIS general secretary, Larry Flanagan, told the conference that workload was excessive. 

He said: “The fact is Scottish teachers have worked to breaking point and beyond to deliver these qualifications.

“They should be applauded for that, but that should not obscure the point that this is no way to manage change in our curriculum. SQA and others need to be held to account for what has been a visceral experience in our schools this session.”

Another grievance is a proposal to make teachers work until they are 68 before they receive a pension.

      


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