Socialist Worker

Anger and calls for action at EIS Scottish education union conference

by Raymie Kiernan in Perth
Issue No. 2407

EIS conference delegates send a solidarity message to Lambeth College strikers

EIS conference delegates send a solidarity message to Lambeth College strikers (Pic: Josh Brown)


Anger at increasing workloads dominated the annual conference of the EIS, Scotland’s biggest education union, in Perth last week.

Delegate after delegate from local associations attacked the “monster of bureaucracy” that is inhibiting them from getting on with the job of teaching.

Conference heard reports of teachers under intolerable pressure due to changes to exams and the curriculum.

A motion was overwhelmingly passed calling for strikes to be included in the EIS campaign against increased workloads in schools and colleges. Union leaders were committed to preparing this campaign of action by December this year.

Celia Connolly from Glasgow criticised union leaders over doing nothing about a vote for strikes last year. “Enough is enough,” she said, “We need action.”

Delegates also overwhelmingly backed industrial action over pay and pensions.

Calls for resistance in the spirit of the massive public sector strike of November 2011 received some of the loudest applause.

EIS council, the union’s leadership body, called for action over a “restorative” common pay claim with local government workers in Scotland. This could pave the way for joint strikes next year.

Speaking in support, Anne McCrae from Edinburgh argued the victory by Edinburgh College workers proves that strikes work. She said, “We should follow the lead of Edinburgh members and the public sector workers striking on 10 July.”

Glasgow EIS secretary Hugh Donnelly insisted that “significant, sustained and determined action” was needed.

Debate

Votes over rule changes at times provoked the most debate. There were arguments over campaigning against leadership decisions and the amount of time motions receive.

Delegates committed the union to campaign against zero hours contracts. Moving the motion Charlie McKinnon from Glasgow said they were an “insidious development” and “a tool to discipline workers”.

He said the victory of Hovis workers in Wigan against zero hours was an inspiration.

Motions passed calling on EIS to investigate gender stereotyping and subject choice, and also to report on effective strategies to combat misogyny.

Conference also backed a call against the scapegoating and stereotyping of immigrants, and for the union to help promote a more positive view of immigration.

Charlotte Ahmed from Glasgow underlined the importance of unity in the face of raids against asylum seekers. She said, “Do not let the politicians and media divide us.”

The left managed to narrowly pass a motion to ban fascists from the teaching profession, overturning a defeat four years earlier. This brings EIS in line with other teaching unions such as the NUT.

A collection for Lambeth College strikers was organised by Unite the Resistance and announced from the platform. It raised £337.15.


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