North Ayrshire’s Labour administration have said they will not comply with the SNP’s plan to interfere in the teaching unions ballot on pay.

A leaked COSLA email revealed that Education Secretary, and SNP Deputy First Minister, John Swinney had requested that he and COSLA send a joint letter directly to school teachers to “explain” why the teachers pay offer was “generous” and should be accepted. The EIS are recommending their members reject the pay offer. The ballot opened on 30th October.

The Labour Group on COSLA moved, at the COSLA Leaders meeting, to reject John Swinney’s request as it would undermine collective bargaining and is in contravention of the ‘Fair Work’ principles the SNP espouse to support. SNP and Tory Council Leaders voted to send the letter – and won 18 votes to 13.

However, neither the Scottish Government nor COSLA can write directly to teachers without the support of individual councils who employ teachers. Joe Cullinane, the Labour Leader of North Ayrshire Council, told the COSLA meeting, when he was moving the Labour motion against the SNP’s plan, that North Ayrshire Council won’t send any letter to its workforce that undermines trade union rights.

Councillor Cullinane said;

“This is a direct attack on the teaching unions and the Labour administration that I lead will not be complicit in interfering and undermining collective bargaining.

“The Labour administration will not be sending letters direct to our workforce on behalf of the SNP Government and their Council Leaders.

“North Ayrshire Labour wants to send a clear message to local teachers and the rest of the Councils workforce that we respect and value yours and your trade unions right to organise for better pay and conditions free from interference from your employer. We are on your side in this fight and we totally condemn this anti-trade union attack by the SNP. 

“John Swinney is clearly misreading the mood of Scotland’s teachers with up to 30,000 demonstrating in Glasgow at the weekend in support of the EIS pay claim, including many teachers from North Ayrshire.

“We call on the SNP Government to stop attacking the rights of workers and their trade unions to organise for fair pay and instead provide the resources to deliver a fair pay settlement for all Council staff.”
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