Addressing the workload crisis
Edinburgh Local Association
“That this AGM instructs Council to develop a campaign of industrial action to address the workload crisis facing teachers. This campaign to draw on lessons learned in the recent Pay Attention campaign, and to include, though not be limited to, actions to achieve commitments by SNCT to:
- begin the rollout of the implement of the reduction of class contact time to 21 hours as soon as is practicable;
- wholly devote the proposed increase in non-contact time to personal preparation and correction time;
- begin planning for a phased reduction in class sizes, with the ultimate aim of all classes being limited to a maximum of 20 pupils.”
Incoming Vice-President Allan Crosbie, (Edinburgh), moved a motion calling for a campaign to address teacher workload, including the possibility of industrial action to ensure that campaign demands are met. “The levels of burnout that I have seen over the past few years are unparalleled and they are unsustainable. The teaching profession is on its knees. Long-term workload relief requires significant numbers of additional teachers – this will require significant additional investment that the Scottish Government has failed to commit to. Our new cabinet secretary is a former teacher, and we will give her a chance – but the Scottish Government often fails to listen without the threat of industrial action,” he said.
Seconding the motion, first-time speaker Jehan Al-Azzawi (Edinburgh) said, “We need to reduce class contact time and class sizes, and that requires investment to recruit additional permanent teachers. Investment in our teachers and in education is absolutely vital – but the government still seems to have failed to grasp this reality.” The motion was carried overwhelmingly.
Legislation to reduce class sizes
North Lanarkshire Local Association
“This AGM call upon Council to campaign for legislation to reduce class sizes in primary and secondary establishments.”
Anna Meechan (North Lanarkshire) successfully moved for the EIS to campaign for legislation to reduce class sizes. “Our classes are absolutely jam-packed. This cannot be the best learning environment for our children,” she said.
Seconding, Elspeth Green (North Lanarkshire), a first-time AGM speaker, said, “The average Scottish class is the largest across Europe. Large class sizes are detrimental to pupils – smaller class sizes are far better for our children.”
Supporting all school staff
Renfrewshire Local Association
“That this AGM calls on the EIS to work more closely with non-teaching unions to support school staff and to collaborate and campaign together on educational issues.”
Dominic Tollan (Renfrewshire) proposed a motion calling for the EIS to work more closely with non-teaching unions to support school staff, “Our non-teaching colleagues are not always given the same attention or value as we are. The current climate of education has placed a massive strain on all school staff.”
Speaking in support of the motion, Lynn Davis (FELA) said, “I completely agree with what my comrades have said about reaching out with friendship, help and support. This is the only way we can protect and secure education in Scotland, no matter which sector. It is about listening to each other and working together to improve the society of the future.”
Strike minimum service levels
Glasgow Local Association
“This AGM believes the Strikes (Minimum Service Level) Bill 2023 is a violation of the right to strike and agrees to campaign for its repeal if enacted.”
Andrew Fullwood (Glasgow) successfully moved a motion in opposition to the proposed introduction of the Minimum Service Levels Bill by the UK Government. “This bill would give the employers the right to impose minimum service levels, essentially taking away our right to strike. If you don’t comply with the notice to work, your employer can sack you and sue your union – and you will have no right to appeal to a tribunal. We already have the most restrictive strike laws in Europe, and this new law would make it worse and effectively remove our right to strike,” he said.
Seconding the motion, Shauna Richardson (Glasgow) said, “This is the greatest attack on trade union rights since Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. Without the right to strike, collective bargaining is no more than collective begging. No-one should ever lose their livelihoods for going on strike.”
Addressing subject specialist shortfalls
Edinburgh Local Association
“That this AGM instructs Council to develop a campaign to put pressure on Scottish Government to address the recruitment shortfall in a range of specialist subjects.”
Proposing a motion to develop a campaign to put pressure on the Scottish Government to address the recruitment shortfall in a range of specialist subjects, Gerard Wilkie (Edinburgh) said, “It took us a year to employ a qualified Home Economics teacher, and for the past year we have had no Craft, Design and Technology teacher. We have relied on non-subject qualified teachers, but the result is a lack of consistency in our learners’ education.”
Andrew McPake (Edinburgh) seconded the motion, “Many hands make light work – but in Scottish education we don’t have many hands. This problem ripples out to lots of other problems. We don’t pretend that this motion is anything but one step further up the mountain, yet we should still take that step.” Following a show of hands the motion was successfully carried.
Distribution of Pupil Equity Funding
Midlothian Local Association
“This AGM instructs Council to investigate and report on how Local Authorities distribute Pupil Equity Funding for pupils attending more than one setting.”
A motion calling for a report on how Local Authorities distribute Pupil Equity Funding for pupils attending more than one setting, was successfully carried by Ross Lyall (Midlothian). “We need a review to see that PEF is having the impact that was intended. This money is earmarked to support the individual, therefore that is how this money should be used. We know the impact on our pupils and members of having the right support in place. This is another step towards equity for all of our pupils.”
EIS ASN Network membership
Midlothian Local Association
“This AGM instructs council to initiate a campaign to promote membership of, and attendance at, the EIS Additional Support Needs Network to ensure there is a breadth of representation from across Scotland.”
Ross Lyall (Midlothian) successfully moved a motion to promote membership of, and attendance at, the EIS Additional Support Needs Network. “The network is key to ensuring that ASN issues are heard, throughout the whole of the EIS. We would like representation from all local associations. Seconding the motion, Tom Britton (Edinburgh) said, “Being a member of the ASN network has been a supportive and encouraging experience. There is a fundamental need for serious reform in how ASN is funded and run. We need to ensure voices and views are gathered from every area of Scotland.”
Centralised procurement and school budgets
Renfrewshire Local Association
“That this AGM calls on the EIS to investigate and report on the implications for school budgets and associated workload arising from centralised procurement systems, including PECOS, in light of cuts in school and departmental budgets.”
Dominic Tollan (Renfrewshire) successfully moved a motion, calling for a report on the implications for school budgets and associated workload arising from centralised procurement systems, including PECOS, in light of cuts in school and departmental budgets. “It’s hard to see the benefit of the current budgeting system employed in schools. Teachers should not be using their own money to buy resources in order to create a quality teaching experience.” The motion was seconded by Amy Gallagher (Glasgow) who said, “Despite all the other issues that teachers must deal with, this system is for some, the last straw. Councils tell us that apparently this money is saved somewhere, I’m not sure where because it’s not coming back into our budgets.”
Transparency in Education budgets
“That this AGM instructs Council to campaign for greater transparency in the Scottish Government and Local Authorities’ Education budgets and reporting, in order to facilitate improved accountability. Furthermore, AGM instructs Council to enhance the EIS’s capacity for analysis of Education spending by the Scottish Government and Local Authorities, by commissioning external expertise as necessary.”
Moving a motion on behalf of Council, incoming President Paula McEwan, was successful in a call for greater transparency in education budgets: “We go round and round and round, with COSLA blaming the Scottish Government, Scottish Government blaming COSLA, and both blaming Westminster. We need clear and transparent processes,” she said.
Seconding the motion, Education Convener Susan Quinn, said, “Show us your working – it’s the key thing for us. It should not take a forensic accountant to see where the money trails are.”
Refugees from Sudan
“That this AGM notes that as part of its hostile environment towards refugees the Home Office is redesignating post-military coup Sudan as a safe destination to which asylum seekers can return. This AGM calls on the Home Office to take cognisance of the situation in Sudan and not subject the lives and security of Sudanese asylum seekers to risk by forcible return.”
Ensuring the safety of asylum seekers from Sudan was the subject of a motion from Donny Gluckstein (EIS-FELA). “There is no way that even Suella Braverman could claim that Sudan is a safe place to be returned to. The government want to blame all the problems they have created on ‘others’ – no Sudanese person is responsible for the problems created by this government”, he said. The motion was formally seconded by Paula Dixon (EIS-FELA) and carried overwhelmingly.
EIS website welcome
Dumfries and Galloway Local Association
“That this AGM instruct the EIS to draft and translate into common community languages a piece of text for the EIS website, explaining the history of the EIS and its current role. Those languages may include Bangla, Chinese, Lithuanian, Polish, Punjabi, Scottish Gaelic, Ukrainian and Urdu.”
A motion calling for a piece of text on the EIS website, explaining the history of the EIS and its current role, with translations into common community languages, was moved by Andrew O’Halloran (Dumfries & Galloway), “The EIS should be reaching out to diverse communities in Scotland. Ours is a good story to tell so let’s tell it.” Seconding the motion, Nuzhat Uthmani (Glasgow) said, “Many families who are new here are unaware of our education system or the role of trade unions. All people from our communities should see that they have a place in our unions as well.” Following a vote, the motion was carried.
Organising and Campaign training
Edinburgh Local Association
“That this AGM instructs Council to develop a suite of training and materials that will support and progress the organising and campaigning skills of EIS reps and members. To include, but not be limited to:
a) local and national campaigning;
c) broader political/trade union education.”
Claire Robertson (Edinburgh) successfully moved for more training to support campaigning. “When the strike days arrived, social media was flooded with images from branches the length and breadth of Scotland. We need to offer as much support as possible for our reps to allow us to continue on the path of an organising trade union,” she said.
Seconding, Andrew Fullwood, Glasgow, said, “Health and Safety is something we can use as a campaigning tool and an organising tool. We have done this in Glasgow recently, using Health and Safety to successfully push back against an IT-related change to our working practices.”
EIS Political Fund Rules
Glasgow Local Association
“This AGM calls on Council to investigate and report on the gender bias in the wording of the EIS Political Fund Rules.”
Des Kenny (Glasgow) successfully moved for existing gender-bias in the wording of political fund rules to be addressed by the EIS. “It is a significant oversight that the EIS political fund rules are based around the word ‘he’ and this should be addressed,” he said. Alison Beattie (Glasgow) seconded the motion.
Supporting members in writing AGM Motions
Glasgow Local Association
“This AGM calls for training to be offered to support members when preparing motions.
This training to include but not be limited to:-
i. Writing a motion with a focus on the language used.
ii. Creating an argument to support the motion.
iii. Presenting the motion with a focus on public speaking skills.”
Supporting members to become more active in EIS democracy was the subject of a motion from Jacqui Church, Glasgow. “We should provide the support systems to lift the quieter voices up,” she said
Seconding, Alison Beattie (Glasgow) said, “This will help to encourage wider participation in our union and our AGM.”
Diagnosis of prostate cancer
“That this AGM notes the wide disparity in early diagnosis of prostate cancer in Scotland in comparison to the rest of the UK. This AGM instructs Council to embark upon a campaign among our members to raise awareness of the importance of early diagnosis, the benefits of PSA testing, and the fact that early prostate cancer tends to be asymptomatic. This campaign to include the following:
- Informing members of the benefits of early diagnosis of prostate cancer.
- Informing members of how they can be tested for prostate cancer.
- Producing materials for distribution to members, including flyers, videos and social media posts, encouraging them to complete the Prostate Cancer UK online risk checker.”
A motion calling for a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of early diagnosis of prostate cancer was moved by John Kelly (FELA and Council), “One in three men in Scotland are diagnosed with prostate cancer too late for treatment. Compared with London, in Scotland we are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed once the disease has already spread.” The motion was seconded by Mick Dolan (West Dunbartonshire), “There is a real lack of public awareness. We need to take this opportunity to raise the awareness to all our members of the positive action they can take.” The motion was carried
Taxation to fund public services
“That this AGM instruct Council to investigate and report on the findings of the STUC’s recently published independent research: ‘Options for increasing taxes in Scotland to fund investment in public services’ and any other relevant research on raising public revenues in Scotland for public investment. The report should include recommended policy positions to consider for adoption by the EIS.”
Paula McEwan, incoming President, moved a Council motion on tax policy to support public services. “We do not currently have policy which would allow us to use the STUC data to campaign for more funding for public services – passing this motion would allow us to do this”, she said.
Seconding, incoming Vice-President Allan Crosbie, said, “The UK government could bring Billions of additional money in for public services by closing tax loopholes for the super-rich. The motion was carried.
Public ownership of utilities
West Dunbartonshire Local Association
“This AGM instructs Council to support and campaign for public ownership of the fossil fuel corporations and the privatised gas and electricity companies.”
Jim Halfpenny (West Dunbartonshire) was successful in his call for a campaign for public ownership of utilities companies. “The amount of tax that oil and gas companies pay can be massively reduced through a range of tax-measures. Companies such as BP and Shell pay little in tax in the UK – in fact, in recent years, Shell has received more from the UK taxpayer than it has paid in tax.”
Seconding, Gavin Corrigan (West Dunbartonshire) said, “Public ownership allows us to put the interests of communities first, rather than being driven by a desire for short-term financial gains.”
East Dunbartonshire Local Association
“That this AGM call on the Scottish Government and Local Authorities to honour their commitments to Net Zero. This should include:-
- A radical and coherent programme of retrofitting of outdated public building stock with non-fossil fuel heating and appropriate insulation and ventilation.
- A ban of single use plastics in schools, including through vending machines
- That recycling of waste by cleaning staff be included as part of the regular cleansing of school buildings.
Furthermore, that this AGM instruct council to campaign that all new school buildings in Scotland be constructed with sustainability of environmentally friendly practices in mind, including but not limited to, solar panels to help reduce power costs and charging points for EV to encourage those teachers who to need to drive, in order to move away from ICE vehicles.”
Ensuring the commitments to Net Zero are met was the subject of a motion from Des Kenny (Glasgow). “Generally, the only way that people will adopt change is when they have to,” he said.
Seconding, James McIntyre (East Dunbartonshire) said, “In a year, the electricity cost for my department alone will be more than
£16,000. There must be a better way. We need to get serious about getting to carbon zero.”
Environmental waste policy
Aberdeenshire Local Association
“That this AGM instruct Council to develop an environmental waste policy to apply to the preparation and distribution of materials relating to routine operational business and to campaign-associated materials.”
Moving a motion calling for the creation of an EIS environmental waste policy, Alan Stickle (Aberdeenshire), said, “We as a union need to consider our use of resources, including natural resources. We need to reduce the amount of plastic waste that we, as a union, generate.”
David Smith (Aberdeenshire) formally seconded the motion, which was then passed by delegates.
Ellen Morton (Glasgow) spoke in support and said, “The Tories are more interested in raging a class war on workers, and an ideological war on migrants rather than addressing this issue. The money is lining the pockets of the energy companies and their owners rather than going where it is needed – into public services.”
Strike ready reckoner
Renfrewshire Local Association
“That this AGM instructs Council to develop a ready reckoner to be added to the EIS website in future industrial action campaigns that would allow those seeking exemption from strike action for pregnancy to enter their personal EWC and self-determine their eligibility for exemption and thereafter apply for exemptions in the normal way.”
A motion proposing the development of a ready reckoner to be added to the EIS website in future industrial action campaigns, that would allow those seeking exemption from strike action for pregnancy to self-determine their eligibility for exemption, was moved by Maggie Russell (Renfrewshire), “During the pay campaign, dealing with phone calls from members who were pregnant took
up a lot of Local Association Secretary’s times. The phone calls we get are sometimes very personal and private. It would be very helpful if we could use technology to allow members to find out for themselves if they are eligible for exemptions during strike.” The Motion was seconded by Kenny Fella (Renfrewshire) formally and following a vote was successfully carried.