Scottish teachers ‘significant step closer’ to strike

Written by: Sam Phipps | Published:
Image: iStock

Teachers in Scotland say they are closer to striking after pay talks reached a deadlock last week.

Unions have described a three per cent pay offer as “derisory”, and the government and local authorities have ruled out raising it.

Education minister John Swinney says an extra £25 million on top of this will also bring more pay for teachers at both ends of the scale, as part of a wider overhaul of pay structures.

However, the EIS and SSTA unions are campaigning for a 10 per cent rise for all teachers, citing the fall in pay over the past decade. Improved salary scales should come on top of this, otherwise the profession will keep struggling to attract and retain staff, they argue.

A spokesman for the teachers’ side of the talks said: “We are extremely disappointed that both the Scottish government and Cosla have rejected the proposals put to them by the teachers’ side, which would have kept negotiations going, and have opted instead to end discussions.

“In a week when the Scottish government found the money to pay upfront a 6.5 per cent offer to Scottish police officers, it now claims to be unable to find any additional money for teachers.”

Teaching unions would now consider the outcome of today’s talks “with member ballots being likely”.

The salaries committee of the EIS, which has already unanimously refused the offer, was set to hold an emergency meeting this week on balloting members.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, said: “It is shameful that Scottish ministers have walked away from the negotiating table in this manner.

“The EIS and other unions had offered constructive proposals for government and Cosla to consider but in rejecting them out of hand, ministers have effectively dismissed the concerns of Scottish teachers.

“The prospect of industrial unrest in Scotland’s schools has moved a significant step closer as a result of the government’s abandonment of talks.”
Gail Macgregor, resources spokeswoman for Cosla, said councils had “dug deep” to offer three per cent for the entire local government workforce.

“The teachers unions’ claim for 10 per cent in a single year cannot be achieved and is entirely unaffordable and they have been told this since the offer was submitted at the start of the year.

“Balloting for a mandate for industrial action will do no one any good as there is nothing further we can add to the current offer and will only disrupt the education of children.”

Mr Swinney said the government and Cosla had offered the best pay deal possible for 2018/19.

“We firmly believe that it is generous and fair and would encourage teachers to consider it favourably.”


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