Return to old Tory attacks on trade unions "disappointing and inaccurate"
The EIS has reacted with disappointment to a Scottish Tory press release which uses misleading and highly questionable figures to stage a predictable, and wildly misinformed, attack on the role of trade union representatives in education.
Responding to the claims made in the Tory press release, EIS General Secretary Ronnie Smith said, "It is disappointing that the Tory party is returning to its old union-bashing agenda of the Thatcher years.
"It is equally disappointing that they are relying on a highly questionable, and wildly inconsistent, set of FOI figures to back-up their spurious claim of an alleged £1M annual cost to the taxpayer for union activity.
"Even if you take the figures from the Tories’ own press release at face value, the actual cost for the past five years doesn’t even approach £1M in total.”
Mr Smith added, "It is also difficult to accept such an attack on the valuable work of public sector union reps from a party whose own MSPs – all 17 of them – racked up collective expense claims of over £200,000, on top of already generous salaries, in the last year alone.
"Coupled with the ongoing expenses scandal enveloping Scotland’s only Tory MP, together with the worst of the Party’s expenses excesses already exposed at Westminster, perhaps the Tories should get their own duck-house in order before attempting to denigrate the valuable work of public-sector trade union reps.”
He continued, "The CBI, together with the TUC and the last Government, recognised the value of the work of trade union representatives. Public sector reps across the country give up to 100,000 hours of their own time on union duties.
"Research shows that the work of union Reps actually saves the taxpayer between £167M and £397M per annum. Union Reps are also worth between £94M and £156M in enhanced productivity each year. Union Reps mean fewer dismissals, less disruption from resignations, between 3600 and 7300 fewer tribunal cases, 8000 to 13000 fewer injuries at work, and 3000 to 8000 fewer cases of work related illness each and every year.”
Mr Smith added, "Even the CBI recognises the huge benefit to employers of the work of union reps in avoiding and resolving disputes, increasing the take-up of training, and reducing costly staff turnover. It is a pity that the Scottish Tories are stuck in the past, and clinging to the old Thatcherite union-bashing agenda.”
"To put the issue into perspective, Scotland’s teachers work a collective total of over 10 Million days per year. The 2418 days that the Tories allege are ‘lost’ to trade union activity represent just 0.002% of the total number of work-days,” said Mr Smith.