Scotland

EIS sets negotiations deadline

Scotland's largest teaching union has set a deadline for a "satisfactory outcome" to negotiations over changes to their pensions and retirement age.

A motion passed at the EIS conference in Perth said there could be a vote on industrial action if agreement was not reached by the end of the year.

On Thursday, the EIS claimed many teachers were at "breaking point" over workloads and new qualifications.

This year saw the new National 4 and 5 qualifications introduced in schools.

Another motion passed by delegates at the conference raised the possibility of a pay dispute.

It called for discussions with the STUC and local government unions for a "common restorative pay claim" to balance out pay freezes and below-inflation rises in recent years.

It also spoke of a campaign of industrial action - possibly co-ordinated with other unions - if there was no settlement by next April.

Delivering his annual address, the union's general secretary Larry Flanagan said it was "absolutely clear that the workload tsunami that has engulfed Scottish education this past year has left many members on their knees".

He added: "In 33 years as a classroom teacher and now two years and a bit as general secretary, I have never witnessed the levels of exhaustion and despair that have been so evident amongst teachers this year.

"All-in-all it appears that teachers and lecturers feel that they are climbing a never-ending mountain that makes more and more demands of them, with little prospect of respite."


Analysis

Jamie McIvor, BBC Scotland education correspondent

The prospect of industrial action in schools may make headlines but it remains a very long way off.

Rather the motions at the conference have given the EIS a powerful weapon to hold in reserve.

Concern over pay and pensions is shared by other public sector unions.

Concern over the workload and bureaucracy associated with new qualifications in secondary schools is long-standing.

The Scottish government says it is working with unions and others to tackle unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy and says that "unprecedented" support is in place.

But if union members feel their concerns are not sufficiently addressed in the coming months watch this space.


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