EIS: Council has ‘jumped the gun’

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A TEACHER’S union has accused Fife Council of jumping the gun on cuts to teachers pay and conditions.

The Educational Institute of Scotland is asking how Fife Council can make the £2m of savings earmarked in its budget, when a scheduled review of the McCrone Agreement is not being made until June, and the findings will not be available until August.

They are also calling for more clarity on what the cuts will entail.

David Farmer, of Fife EIS described the £2m figure as a ‘guesstimate’.

He said: “We’ve actually seen budgets for other councils where they have specified a saving for removal, such as removal of conserved salaries.

“We’re very concerned that Fife Council has put in a figure of £2m without specifying where the savings will come from.”

The Council revealed £3.88m of cuts in education as well at their budget meeting last week. In addition £4.85m of cuts will be made by officers under delegated authority.

Negotiations

Negotiations are currently being made at a national level between teaching unions and COSLA, with the local authorities proposing removal of conserved salaries, lower pay for supply teachers, more work for probationers and a cut in paid leave entitlement.

Mr Farmer also questioned statements made by the administration that negotiations were underway with teachers regarding pay and conditions.

He said: “In his opening remarks at the budget meeting last week Councillor Grant said negotiations are ongoing. They are most definitely not.

“There are no negotiations and we can’t see how there would be until the McCrone agreement review is complete.”

He further added that an increase in senior teachers taking early retirement could be damaging to schools.

He said: “Looking at the service as a whole, how do we replace that experience?”

Douglas Chapman, chairman of the education and children’s services committee said: “The £2m in teachers terms and conditions is based on financial assumptions prepared by the chief executive. Obviously we’ll be keeping a very close eye on how the negotiations go between COSLA, the trade unions and the government, but we are all hoping for a sensible, agreed settlement.”