School strikes go ahead - after legal bid by East Dunbartonshire Council is dismissed

Striking East Dunbartonshire teachers pictured this morning (Tuesday).
Striking East Dunbartonshire teachers pictured this morning (Tuesday).

Schools are being disrupted today as teachers go on strike — after a last-ditch legal bid by East Dunbartonshire Council to halt it was dismissed by a judge.

Bearsden Academy, Kirkintilloch High School and Lenzie Academy have all been affected by the dispute over teachers working conditions.

Bearsden Academy is closed to all pupils today with the exception of pupils in the Language and Communication Unit and pupils who attend college in the afternoon.

Kirkintilloch High School and Lenzie Academy will be open to all pupils throughout the day.

Teachers who are members of the NASUWT -The Teachers’ Union were confirmed to continue with the action following the dismissal of East Dunbartonshire Council’s challenge to secure an interim interdict in the Court of Sessions to seek to prevent the action.

In the hearing, held yesterday to consider the petition, the judge dismissed every point of challenge the Council made and awarded the Union its costs.

The strike action is the first in the NASUWT’s plans to target councils across Scotland who fail to act to support teachers to improve their workload and working conditions.

Ms Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary, said: Whilst the Government must take responsibility for the year-on-year deterioration in teachers’ pay and conditions, there are actions that employers have the power to take locally to address some of the concerns raised by teachers and alleviate some of the pressures on them.

“It is disappointing that we have been forced to take action in East Dunbartonshire, but having attempted to engage in constructive discussions to work together on these issues, regrettably the Council changed its position and instead of confirming it would work with us on the issues we had raised, would only commit to them informing local discussions.

“By the Council’s own admission, these discussions have been going on for years.

“Endless meetings that fail to produce outcomes which make a tangible difference to teachers’ working lives to enable them to do their best for pupils are pointless.

“Instead of wasting public money challenging the NASUWT’s lawful action, the Council’s time and resources would have been better spent working with us to implement real improvements in teachers’ working conditions and avoiding strike action.

“It has underestimated badly the depth of teachers’ anger and frustration.

“Other employers should take note. Teachers’ patience and goodwill is exhausted and legal challenges only make a bad situation worse.”

Joint Leader of East Dunbartonshire Council, Councillor Vaughan Moody, said: “The threat of industrial action by the NASUWT, targeting only East Dunbartonshire of 32 local authorities in Scotland is unjustified, unduly personal and a direct attack on the pupils of this area because they are in high performing schools.

“The unsubstantiated claims by the NASUWT that the Council has chosen not to engage with them are simply untrue. This Council has been instrumental in addressing all issues raised by teachers both on national concerns recognised through the LNCT and on local issues.

“Considering the NASUWT acknowledged our constructive and positive partnership working at our most recent meeting at the end of January, it is quite incredible that following correspondence after that meeting the result is a sensationalist announcement of strike action.

Joint Leader of East Dunbartonshire Council, Councillor Andrew Polson added: “We also find it astonishing that the NASUWT is now jumping on the bandwagon of non-teaching staff in our schools, following the Council’s most challenging budget position yet, where decisions were taken to preserve jobs across the whole authority with an unfortunate but necessary impact on the terms and conditions of our non-teaching workforce.

“Whilst financial decisions have been taken in this respect so too has a commitment been made to work with the relevant trades unions on this matter in taking it forward.

“We have been constructively engaged with the NASUWT and this targeted attack on the pupils and families of East Dunbartonshire is unwarranted and demonstrates a complete lack of commitment from the union to work with the Council for the benefit of their members.

“No evidence has been provided as to why East Dunbartonshire has been singled out for this disruptive action and I would urge the union to consider the impact they will have on our young people as they prepare for their examinations if this unjustified strike action proceeds.

“I would also like to reassure our young people and their families and carers that we are doing everything in our power to minimise the disruption to their schooling through this single union action which is not being supported by the other teaching unions.”