Following largescale pickets at schools in Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders a group of EIS members from across southern Scotland met with local MSPs at Holyrood on Wednesday 1st March. Labour MSPs Carol Mochan, Colin Smyth and Martin Whitfield were in attendance, as well as Conservative MSP Oliver Mundell, while Labour leader Anas Sarwar also greeted the EIS delegation. The meeting focused primarily on the pay but inevitably other matters were discussed. EIS activist Sarajane Moffat from Stranraer was very clear:

“The pay campaign has acted as a lightening rod for a whole range of other issues that have been causing concern to teachers for a long time, and we left our elected representatives in no doubt as to how serious the issues in education are.”

The EIS group made it very clear just how determined they were to see this campaign through to the very end and they told MSPs how picket lines at schools in southern Scotland have grown over the course of the campaign. Borders EIS Local Association Secretary Lindsay said, “We made it very clear just how determined we are to achieve a positive outcome to this dispute, and they were very supportive.”

Apart from pay, teacher recruitment, ASN and declining discipline were also discussed. Although invited to the meeting, there was a noticeable lack of representation for the SNP. This was a disappointment to the group.

Dumfries and Galloway EIS Local Association Secretary Andrew O’Halloran was clear, “The SNP’s failure to take up the opportunity to meet with our group while disappointing, does speak volumes about the Scottish Government’s attitude to these negotiations, which have been characterised by dithering and prestidigitation from the outset. This really does need to change. With a modicum of political will from the SNP this dispute could have been resolved months ago, and we made this crystal clear to the MSPs who met our group.”