December 2023

Created on: 13 Dec 2023 | Last modified: 23 Feb 2024

Message from the General Secretary

Colleagues

This is a longer message than I would normally write but its length is reflective of the colossal work that you have done as Reps this past year.

2023 has represented another proud year of EIS history-making thanks to the hard work of Reps like you.

Over the months of January to March, our school-based members carried out the bulk of the strike action- the first in four decades over pay- that finally resulted in the offer of an acceptable pay rise for teachers after more than a year of waiting for it.

By the start of June at our AGM we had launched our new campaign- Stand Up for Quality Education- the focus of this informed by the all-member survey that members completed in their thousands and thousands earlier this year.

In August, we launched our national Branch Survey on violence and aggression in schools and published the results and associated recommendations at the end of November.

In September-October, almost three thousands members emailed SNP MSPs on the manifesto commitment to reduce teacher class contact to 21 hours per week.

This month, as we continue the national and local pressure around behaviour and schools, we are preparing for the next big campaign spotlight on ASN provision in the new year.

It has been all-go on the campaign front for school based reps. Thank you for all that you have done to keep our campaign momentum strong.

2023 has been high energy for FELA reps too. First the launch of the Fighting for the Future of Further Education campaign at the FELA conference in March- a campaign that rightly seeks to raise the status and funding for Further Education in Scotland.

Industrial action in the form of Action Short of Strike commenced in May in pursuit of the fair pay award that should have been delivered in September 2022, escalating to strike action and a rally at the Scottish Parliament in September.

Narrowly missing the re-ballot threshold in November, a fresh re-ballot is now underway with Branch Reps working their socks off to get the vote out and decisively beat the anti-TU industrial action thresholds this time around. Thank you for the massive effort that’s going into this and that we’ll need to keep up until the very last day of voting.

At the same time as this national dispute has been raging, individual Branch Reps have been fighting compulsory redundancies at various colleges across Scotland, most notable Edinburgh and City of Glasgow, where members have been forced to take industrial action in defence of jobs.

This has required double the effort- fighting on two fronts at the same time, though there can be no doubt that the challenges that Reps are mounting to compulsory redundancies in individual colleges are gravely important for the whole sector. My thanks go to you all for leading the resistance to compulsory redundancies in the FE sector- an essential part of the public sector for which the Scottish Government has pledged no compulsory redundancies.

And finally, to our EIS-ULA reps. The long-running issues over pay continue but so have your efforts to press for better for university lecturers in Scotland. Thank you for that.

Whilst the recent ballot outcome has not enabled progress at this stage to industrial action in the pursuit of fair pay, there are many other matters that impact the professional lives of university lecturers in Scotland that we can campaign around together and I look forward to working with you in the new year.

Colleagues, as a cohort of Reps, you have worked hard to promote and defend the interests of our members throughout 2023. Campaigning effort has been coupled with ongoing day-to-day casework that’s essential to our members, also.

As this year comes to a close, I wish you all a relaxing winter break. Enjoy the time that you have to spend on your own lives and reflect with pride on what you have achieved individually and collectively as Reps this past year.

In solidarity

Stand Up for Quality Education

Thank you to all reps and members who responded to the EIS national branch survey on ‘violence and aggression’ that was recently published. The full report has been shared with all members, and it may be found here.

The EIS report found significant and rising levels of ‘violence and aggression’ in schools, and set out recommendations to address it.

Last week, the Scottish Government published its “Behaviour in Scottish schools: research report 2023” and it may be found here.

The independent report findings and recommendations align closely with the EIS report and should be cited to support the EIS report on ‘violence and aggression’ in schools. 

Action for Reps: Please discuss the EIS report’s findings and recommendations with members. Consider the recommendations and collectively decide which of these recommendations need to be realised at the school, prioritise them and work with your LA Secretary and EIS Organiser to begin relevant campaigning.

Please also work with your Local Association in campaigning to address ‘violence and aggression’ in the wider local authority area.

Our Wellbeing, It Matters!

Saturday 13th January 2024

Members from across Scotland are invited to a wellbeing conference on Saturday 13th January, 10am-2.30pm, at the Radisson Blu, Glasgow, and a day focused on collaboratively building our workplace wellbeing through a variety of workshops that will consider wellbeing through an equalities lens, building a collective wellbeing voice, and practical tools for enhancing workplace wellbeing.

Places can be booked following this link.

Action for Reps: Please highlight to members.

EIS Further Education Lecturers Association – Industrial Action

Following unsatisfactory pay offers from College Employers Scotland, members of the EIS-FELA, across all of Scotland’s colleges are balloting to extend their mandate for industrial action over pay. The ballot is currently open and will close on Tuesday 16th January 2024.

Our branch at UHI Shetland are facing redundancies which could total almost one third of the lecturing staff. Support our members and show your opposition to the cuts by signing the petition below!

Action for Reps: Please support your local FELA college members by sending solidarity messages to the branch and via social media. https://www.eis.org.uk/fela/college-contacts.

Ask members to support the UHI Shetland petition.

Independent Schools

Some independent schools choose not to recognise trade unions, despite high levels of EIS membership.  The EIS will continue to push for recognition and representation to ensure that our members are treated fairly and are aware of their rights.

Action for Reps in Independent Schools: If you and your colleagues wish to get your EIS Branch recognised by your independent school then please contact your nearest Organiser; https://www.eis.org.uk/contacts/organisers

More information on independent schools may be found here:

https://www.eis.org.uk/pay-and-conditions-of-service/independentschools

Anti-racism Creative Showcase

The EIS is the sole funder of this year’s Show Racism the Red Card Creative Showcase. Taking part in this showcase is a great way to engage learners in an anti-racist curriculum. The showcase is open to all in Education, from EY to S6 and all entries will feature in our online gallery, with some invited to an in-person event in Glasgow. Visit https://www.theredcard.org/showcase/ for further information and to submit pupils’ artwork.

Action for Reps: Please display the poster in your establishment and share widely.

EIS TUC Reps’ Training

Training is available for all EIS reps, both new and experienced, and for activists interested in becoming an EIS rep. The EIS has developed training courses with the TUC that are TUC accredited. These courses include EIS Reps’ Stage 1 Training, bespoke FELA and ULA Reps’ training and Health and Safety Reps’ training.

A list of upcoming training opportunities for reps is available on the EIS website. If you are a rep or an activist interested in these opportunities, then please contact your Local Association Secretary to be nominated for one of these courses. 

Action for Reps: Check the EIS website regularly for new training opportunities available to you: https://www.eis.org.uk/meetings-and-events/reptraining

Professional Learning Opportunities

Please visit the website for details of new professional learning opportunities that will be delivered from January to March 2024.

Action for Reps: Please visit the professional learning section of the EIS website and make yourself and members aware of upcoming professional learning opportunities.

New Staff and Probationer Teacher Recruitment

Recruitment is key for all trade unions including the EIS.

If you haven’t approached the probationers in your school, please do so and remind them that membership is free until December 2024.

If the probationer joined the EIS as a student teacher, they have automatically become full EIS members - you should ask them to update their membership details on:http://www.eis.org.uk/Account/EISLogin

Please approach all new staff, to check if they are an EIS member and recruit any teacher who is not a trade union member. If they are already EIS members, then they will need to update their school details on MyEIS at http://www.eis.org.uk/Account/EISLogin

Action for Reps: Approach all new teaching and probationer staff as soon as possible to check if they are EIS members and ask them to join the EIS online, if they are not already a member, https://www.eis.org.uk/Join or update their details appropriately if they are already members.