The Salaries and Conditions of Service Committee of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association today unanimously rejected the proposals from the employers' organisation, COSLA, regarding changes to Scottish teachers' conditions of service. The matter will now be put to a ballot of SSTA members with a recommendation to reject the offer.
Speaking in Edinburgh, SSTA General Secretary, Ann Ballinger said:
“The meeting of the SNCT last Wednesday considered a new offer from COSLA. The SSTA representatives undertook to refer the offer to its Salaries Committee. The Committee today unanimously rejected the proposals. The Committee was highly critical of particular aspects of the proposals.
1. The proposed reduction in the rates paid to short term cover teachers (“supply” staff) amounts to a 45% reduction in current earnings. The SSTA notes that the most recent COSLA proposal constituted a further deterioration in salaries beyond that proposed in the original COSLA offer. The demeaning treatment of teachers who provide cover for absent colleagues betrays the total inability of COSLA to understand feeling within the profession.
2. The figures quoted by COSLA in relation to “guarantees” of future teacher employment themselves represent a significant decrease in teacher numbers. The successful implementation of Curriculum of Excellence requires that teacher numbers remain at least constant. COSLA can only suggest that they will “guarantee” a reduction in teacher numbers. Such a decline will inevitably lead to a reduction in the number of subjects offered to young people in middle and upper phases of secondary education. Parents will increasingly choose schools for their children on the basis of the breadth of the curriculum on offer.
3. The supposed “guarantees” on teacher numbers are, in any event, meaningless. The penalty to be applied if COSLA members do not employ sufficient teachers gives no guarantee at all. All that is suggested is the “possibility of reversion” to current conditions. The statement that the Government “may seek to apply a sanction” is valueless, most obviously because there is no certainty attached and because it is not possible to bind a new Scottish Government to the proposal.”
4. Teachers' conditions of service have a huge impact on teacher morale. The deterioration in conditions and salaries proposed by COSLA is certain to contribute to a reduced provision for Scotland's young people. The link between teachers' conditions and the quality of education is clear to all but COSLA and the Scottish Government.
The ballot of SSTA members asking them to accept or reject the offer will take place during April.
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NOTES TO NEWS EDITORS
The Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) is the body containing representatives of the Government, COSLA and the teachers unions. It determines nationally negotiated salaries and conditions for teachers in Scotland.
The SSTA is Scotland's second largest teacher union representing 8500 members within secondary schools in Scotland.