Morale low as ‘undervalued’ teachers prepare to vote on pensions strike

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MORE than 1,000 teachers in the Borders are about to vote on whether to take strike action, writes Bob Burgess.

They are angry about changes to their pensions – but they also say their professionalism is being undervalued by education bosses.

Scotland’s largest teaching union, the EIS, has in excess of 1,000 members in primary and secondary schools in the Borders – including heads and their deputies.

Kay Miller, the secretary of the EIS in the Borders, said the general feeling among many teachers was one of low morale.

She told TheSouthern: “They seem to be held responsible for many of the ills in our society.

“Resources are reduced and the workload seems to increase. We have been holding meetings to discuss the implications of the recent pay settlement and the proposed changes to pensions. And we have seen the publication of the McCormac Review into teachers’ pay and conditions.

“All of these developments leave teachers feeling even more undermined and undervalued.

“Many of the benefits of the Teachers Agreement for the 21st Century (McCrone) look to be eroded. Our newly qualified and younger teachers may not yet realise the damage that is being visited on their futures – they are rightly excited and absorbed by their new and rewarding careers in the profession.

“However I am sure that the prospect of working harder and longer, paying more and receiving less at the end of their working lives will soon become a reality for them.”

She added: “For teachers who have been in the profession for longer and are now facing the prospect of reduced pension benefits, the reaction ranges from anger to fatalistic expressions along the lines that they will not survive long to claim much of their pension anyway.

“There is sympathy for younger colleagues and fears that teaching will not be a popular career choice for our brightest graduates in the future.”

If the ballot produces a “yes” result, strike action could start as early as next month.