Scots union overhaul

There is uncertainty over future union support for the Educational Institute of Scotland's College Lecturers' Association as a result of the increasing localisation of education.

The EIS is overhauling its national committee system and setting up six regional offices, in recognition of devolved management of schools. Further education pay and conditions are now being negotiated locally following the Employers' Association abandoning national negotiations in January, and the regional offices will now have a further education remit.

At the CLA's annual conference last Saturday, delegates called for increased support from full time officials for further education college branches, but warned of the need for continued central support from union headquarters.

There were tensions last year between the CLA and the EIS when further education left wingers were angered by what they saw as intervention in negotiations with the Employers' Association by Jim Martin, general secretary of the EIS.

But Mr Martin's recent successor, Ronnie Smith, made a soothing address to the conference, insisting that while the employers had succeeded in wrecking the national negotiating agreement, they must not be allowed to wreck the cohesion of the EIS.

"I know there is sometimes a perception that the CLA is some kind of an appendage to the main body, but you are at the cutting edge of much that is happening in education. You are the first to experience plant bargaining, and the so-called main body will have much to learn from your experiences."

The conference gave unanimous support for community based local authority adult education coming under education departments rather than leisure and recreation when Scotland's authorities are reorganised next April.

Bonnie Dudley Edwards of the CLA's adult education branch said this was an ideologically sound and distinctive part of the education system which would be threatened by being subsumed into leisure and recreation departments.

"It is a negotiated curriculum with learners, rather than being offered off the peg. The issues adults want to learn about are often decided by learners themselves."

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