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Thursday, 23 September, 1999, 03:47 GMT 04:47 UK
Independent inquiry into teachers' pay
Teachers will no longer have the final say over pay deals
Scotland's education minister Sam Galbraith is to make the parliament responsible for settling future pay and condition deals for teachers.

His decision to abolish the present joint negotiation system - which means teachers have the final say over any proposal - comes in the wake of teaching unions reiterating their strong opposition to the latest pay offer.

Mr Glabraith announced on Wednesday that an independent committee of inquiry will be set up to find a new way of agreeing future wages deals for teachers.

It will be an eight-strong team - chaired by retired civil servant Professor Gavin McCrone - but none of its members will be a classroom teacher.

The current offer of 14% over three years has failed to impress Scotland's teaching unions which are now urging members to vote against the deal in forthcoming ballots.

Mr Galbraith told the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday that the teachers' local authority employers - which make pay offers through the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) - have recognised the need for changes.

He said it was now his responsibility to find another way forward in order to deliver greater professionalism and better education.

EIS banner
EIS executives have called for rejection
Mr Galbraith believes the current Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee arrangements are archaic and have achieved nothing in the last 10 years.

The Labour minister added: "I take the view that the laws of the land should be made here in Parliament, not in a negotiating committee."

The inquiry will look at what changes will be needed to the structure of teachers' conditions of employment, including pay.

It will report by May next year in order for its conclusions to influence pay talks in 2000.

However, Mr Galbraith says it is only right that the SJNC should be left with the task of resolving the question of any pay agreement for 1999.

News of the inquiry has pleased the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) which has been calling for an independent assessment of the situation.

However the Scottish National Party's education spokeswoman, Nicola Sturgeon, questioned the inquiry's very existence.

Inquiry costs

She said: "Why have a committee at all? How can the education minister justify the substantial cost to tax payers to set up a so-called independent committee when he could easily use our own parliamentary structure."

The Conservatives congratulated Mr Galbraith for what they believe was a Labour administration adopting a long-held Tory policy.

Despite the barrage of criticism before the committee has even met, its chairman Prof McCrone said: "This is an independent committee which will attempt to find a solution and way forward to what has become a difficult problem."

But teachers' unions appear more stubborn then ever.

Ronnie Smith, leader of the largest professional body the Educational Institute of Scotland said teachers would go out on strike if necessary.

BBC Scotland's Education Correspondent Kenneth Macdonald reports
See also:

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