The advice set out FAQs reflects the EIS Industrial Action Policy. The appropriate section is copied in full for your information.
It is a well-established trade union principle that members of different trade unions seek to support each others’ legitimate demands and show what solidarity is possible in the circumstances. However, there are important points to be borne in mind when considering how this solidarity can and should be demonstrated.
In situations where EIS members are not involved in a dispute and will not, therefore, have been balloted on industrial action members should report to work as normal. This includes situations where a picket line has been organised at the place of work. It should be remembered that the principal function of a picket line is to persuade members of trades unions who are involved in the dispute not to enter the workplace.
No member should engage in any duty which is normally carried out by staff who are on official strike or engaged in any other official industrial action.
It is important that members are aware of the possible consequences of taking part in unofficial industrial action and these are outlined below:
- It is possible that members who do not report for work on such occasions will be the subject of disciplinary action. In these circumstances, it must be remembered that failure to attend for work may be regarded as unofficial industrial action and the Institute may be required to repudiate, formally, the action taken.
- Members, almost certainly, will lose a day’s pay and, again, the Institute will take no action to attempt to recover the salary which has been docked.
- In the unlikely event of any member being dismissed as a consequence of breaking their contract of employment by taking unofficial industrial action, there is no recourse to Employment Tribunal.
- It is the EIS view that it is totally unacceptable for teachers to be asked to cover the work of colleagues who have not reported for work (in the context of industrial action). However, members should be aware that any refusal to cover for classes of teachers who have not reported for work could be deemed, in the circumstances, to be unofficial industrial action. Any difficulties should be reported to the Local Association Secretary or Area Officer as appropriate.
While the EIS is under certain constraints as a consequence of the industrial relations legislation, members will be provided with EIS representation should this prove to be necessary.
Specific Advice for Headteacher Members
It is important to note that while it is not the duty of a Headteacher to carry out certain duties within the school there is a requirement to supervise, within the resources available, certain duties of other members of staff. The following specific advice is therefore offered.
- During periods of industrial action, the Headteacher should only take responsibility for the physical opening of the school in the following circumstances:
- where an absolute instruction has been given by the education authority; and
- where adequate arrangements are in place to ensure that the buildings are left secure at the end of the school day; and
- where the Headteacher, prior to the notification of the dispute, is an official keyholder for the authority; and
- where the Headteacher is satisfied that arrangements for ensuring the security and safety of all in the building can be maintained.
- The Headteacher must not request or instruct other members of staff to perform duties normally carried out by staff engaged in industrial action. However, any health and safety issue which arises during the course of the day must be reported immediately to the Education Department.
- Should arrangements for the provision of cleaning services, heating, hot water, sanitation or school meals be affected by the industrial action and if the school has not been closed to pupils and/or staff as a consequence, further consideration should be given to sending pupils/other staff home.