Solicitors acting on behalf of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union (the second largest and fastest growing Union in Scotland) have issued a preliminary notice of claim on Glasgow City Council on the basis that the Council and headteachers are regularly insisting that teachers work in excess of their contractual provisions, in breach of teachers’ terms and conditions of employment.
The abuse of teachers’ contracts has been exposed by the NASUWT’s industrial action in furtherance of its national trade dispute with the Scottish Government over a range of issues including workload, ineffective management of pupil indiscipline and adverse management practices.
One of the Union’s action short of strike action instructions relates to teachers working to their contract on providing cover for absent colleagues. The implementation of this, which should have been no more than a protective measure, exposed the abuse and regular contractual breach in a number of schools.
However, rather than address this, the Council issued threats to NASUWT members, threatening them with deductions of salary and therefore encouraging bullying and harassment of members.
The Union has reminded schools of their legal obligations and the consequences of members being subject to such unacceptable behaviour.
So concerned is the Union by the attitudes towards staff which have been exposed that the NASUWT has launched an anonymous hotline for teachers to report their experiences.
Ms Chris Keates, General Secretary (Acting) of the NASUWT, said:
“Teachers understand their contractual responsibilities and they are entitled to expect that their contractual provisions are honoured.
“It is therefore quite frankly unacceptable that when teachers are seeking to discharge those responsibilities their entitlements are denied to them and instead they are threatened, bullied and harassed.
“The contractual provision on cover for absence is being widely abused by the Employer, with teachers being asked to cover far in excess of what they are contractually required to do. This not only has implications for teachers, but also for pupils, whose educational progress is being compromised.
“Most employers understand the right of teachers to highlight concerns about their working conditions.
“They may not like it but they do respect that their staff have rights. Not so in this case.
“Teachers have been faced with bullying, harassment, aggression and hostility. Members have been faced with punitive action and in some cases verbally abused and subjected to intimidatory tactics, including being forced to report individually to headteachers’ or senior managers’ offices.
“This is not the first time members have expressed their deep concerns about the negative culture and style presided over by the Education Directorate in the local authority.
“It appears that a bullying, intolerant and abusive approach is adopted to the workforce or anyone who does not immediately conform to their way of thinking.
“Teachers and headteachers have been clear to us that this appalling management culture was rife long before the Union’s industrial action started.
“Such approaches have to be addressed by leadership from the top of the Council’s Education Services and so it goes without saying that the buck stops firmly at the door of the Executive Director of Education to secure a change of culture and approach.
“So concerned is the NASUWT by the poor treatment of teachers it has uncovered that we have opened today an anonymous hotline for teachers across Glasgow to report their own experiences or unacceptable attitudes they have witnessed. This will give us an in-depth insight into the scale of the problem. But let’s be absolutely clear that even one case is too many.
“This hotline is, in addition to continuing to pursue contractual compliance, escalating to strike action in the worst case scenarios and lobbying politicians.”
Jane Peckham, NASUWT National Official Scotland, said:
“It is ironic that the Council’s Education Services extoll the successes of the Council’s nurture programme for pupils and yet it presides over a less than nurturing environment for teachers.
“The culture towards teachers is do what you are told regardless of your rights, your contract or your wellbeing.
“The NASUWT has responded nationally to the concerns of teachers in Glasgow and across the country about the Government’s failure to tackle seriously their workload, pupil indiscipline and adverse management practices, but in Glasgow we also in addition have to tackle the unacceptable attitude of their own employer towards them as professionals and so we will be pursuing all of these issues alongside our national action.”