TEACHERS AT the annual general meeting of the EIS, Scotland's biggest education union, voted for an industrial action ballot to reduce class sizes recently. If negotiations with the government are not successful by December 2004 action should follow in next spring.
Delegates voted by 152 to 141 against the wishes of the union's leadership, who did not want a deadline. The pressure is on the Scottish Executive and the union leaders to deliver. EIS policy on class size demands a reduction to a maximum of 20 pupils in all classes.
Reducing class sizes is the most obvious way teachers can create an environment where they can engage with pupils and tap into the potential that the current arrangements bury. In another hotly contested debate a call for industrial action against the government's plans to increase the retirement age of public sector workers to 65 was narrowly defeated.
Some speakers against the motion for industrial action had the gall to blame the members of the union for being apathetic and not rushing out to lobby (in the nice way) their MPs.
Pensions are an issue that will not go away. The conference ratified the EIS affiliation to Unite Against Fascism. The meeting also voted to show its solidarity with the Palestinian people by twinning with schools and colleges in Palestine.