Since September, discussions between Forth Ports, owner of the Port of Dundee, and Dundee City Council have progressed plans to establish a ‘freeport’ in the City.Continue reading Dundee City Council Backs Rotten Freeport Bid
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published its annual Poverty in Scotland report on the current state of poverty levels in Scotland, and its findings make for dire reading. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, around a million people in Scotland were in poverty, “living precarious and insecure lives”. That breaks down as 230,000 children, 640,000 working age adults, and 150,000 pensioners.Continue reading Rising Poverty Shames Capitalism
In any country that claims to care about the basic needs of its citizens, and where homelessness and precarious housing is on the rise, providing homes for people ought to be a priority of the Government. This is as true for the Scottish Government as it would be for any other, yet it consistently falls short on its promises.Continue reading Social housing crisis is failure of pro-market policies
After a backlash from school students and opposition politicians, Education Secretary John Swinney has announced that thousands will have their grades increased.
by Shaun Morris
The “moderation” of exam grades allocated by the SQA leads to anger as schools in poorer areas have their results disproportionately downgraded.
by Finlay Stevenson
By Phil Martin, IMT Edinburgh
MSPs belonging to the Scottish National Party teamed up with the Tories in the Scottish Parliament at the end of May in order to vote against measures designed to protect tenants during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Members of the parliamentary COVID-19 committee were considering amendments to emergency legislation that were put forward by Scottish Labour and the Scottish Green Party.Continue reading SNP Side with Tories to Block Support for Tenants
A deal has been reached in the Scottish further education lecturers’ campaign for pay rises, after months of negotiations and several days of strike action. The EIS Further Education Lecturers’ Association (EIS-FELA) recommended for its members to accept the latest offer from Colleges Scotland, the organisation representing Scottish colleges in the dispute. Results from the ballot show that 88% of members accepted the offer.
By Marios Kalomenopoulos, IMT Edinburgh
The political situation in Scotland has been rather quiet, recently, however this superficial stability hides important changes that are developing below the surface. The unions response to the proposed budget from the SNP government is one such expression.
By Harvey Dodds, IMT Edinburgh
The draft budget presented by the Scottish Government in December marked a chance for the SNP to embellish the anti-austerity credentials they have earned in recent years with a bold budget. With the tax powers that have been devolved to Holyrood, it would have been possible to significantly raise tax for the highest earners in order to fund redistributive policies, public sector pay, and investment without affecting lower earners. This, however, was not the case.
By Tam Burke, Edinburgh
A big FAIL mark was given by teachers in Scotland to the Scottish Government just after the Tories’ general election humiliation. The AGM of the EIS (Educational Institute of Scotland, the teachers union) unanimously agreed to prepare a campaign to restore salaries which have been severely cut by the continual 1% pay cap. If negotiations fail to achieve this for next year’s pay settlement, a ballot will be held for industrial action, including strikes, beginning at the start of the 2018-19 academic year.
Teachers have had enough of 1% pay increases which, as for all other workers, mean a pay cut when rises in prices and contributions paid by workers for national insurance and pensions are accounted for. The union’s fair pay settlement is set at 20% for the 2017 pay rise. This is a result of the long running cap public sector pay which has seen their pay fall by a similar figure over several years. The teachers’ mood is hardening.
This year has seen two periods of EIS Further Education College members taking action with rallies, strikes, picket lines and support from students causing disruption. The action was suspended after a deal brokered by the Scottish Government. It may resume if it is not implemented following the announcement on 12th June that several Councils cannot afford to pay staff the amount agreed. Workers in education are under pressure due to unrelenting cuts in spending. Staff must stand united in fighting back against the SNP Government and remind Nicola Sturgeon of her stated principle that “education is at the heart of our plans and I am committed to doing all I can to improve the life chances of every child and young person.”
The reality is the Scottish Government is bending the knee to the Tory Government by passing on the cuts to councils to do their dirty work, destroying services and hope. Then Jeremy Corbyn came along to inspire belief in the fightback against the Tories and that austerity can be brought to an end.
The GTCS (General Teaching Council for Scotland) reported that in 2016 86% of its members reported increased workloads, 19 % had a decrease in workload satisfaction and 54% would not recommend teaching as a job. Implementation of a new curriculum, without sufficient preparation, has resulted in even more stress as teachers struggle to cope to do their best for their pupils. The SSTA (Scottish Secondary Teachers Association), the other teachers’ union, held their 2017 conference under the theme “Put pupils first – give teachers time to teach”. The question is how best to achieve that decent aim? In October 2016 SSTA members , on a 40% turnout, voted 91% for industrial action short of strikes, over issues such as extra hours workload, the failure to provide supply teachers to cover shortages and for more training time. The SSTA welcomed the Scottish Government’s pledge last year to provide modern school buildings, but stated “fundamentally the teacher in the classroom is the most important educational resource.”
The GTC found a lack of job share provision by employers for staff with families, that teachers on a three day week felt it equalled five days with the extra time need to cover vacancies that would not be filled due to cuts. A lack of permanent jobs means staff look elsewhere for work, not necessarily in Scotland or in teaching. The SSTA has highlighted the 1819 teaching posts lost between 2010 and 2016 due to the Tory Government’s cuts in money to councils for services, including education. This loss increases the workload of those left behind. This is the same reported for workers in the NHS. We support all public sector unions fighting together to defend public services and improve pay and conditions across the board.
Ultimately the Tory Government and capitalism are to blame. However, with only verbal opposition by the SNP Government rather than practical defiance in refusing to carry out cuts, it’s no wonder EIS members are preparing for strike action if negotiations fail. Larry Flanagan, EIS General Secretary, stated to the AGM delegates that they were the key to victory, to encouraging members to support a ballot and to work for its acceptance. He reminded the AGM that under the Tory trade union legislation, every abstention counted as a no vote. The role of local reps and the active rank and file members are key to building members’ confidence to succeed. This struggle with the Tories involves the conditions of all workers in education, so requires widening the struggle to include joint action as “divided we beg, united we win”.
The teaching unions are non-party political, but undoubtedly many members are encouraged by the move to the left by a Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn. The fightback will more and more lead teachers to draw increasingly political conclusions. Only by taking the means of running of society out of the hands of the tiny minority whose self interest curtails educational spending and achievement and putting it in the hands of the workers under public ownership can we ensure a properly funded and well rounded education system