Teachers to vote on strike action over pay offer

Votes by members of the EIS on a possible strike over pay are counted in Perth. Photograph: Alan Richardson
Votes by members of the EIS on a possible strike over pay are counted in Perth. Photograph: Alan Richardson
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Pupils could face widespread disruption in Scotland’s schools after teachers voted to ballot for strike action if their pay demands are not met.

Delegates at the 171st annual general meeting of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) in Perth yesterday said their mood was “hardening” towards their local authority employers as the value of salaries continues to fall in real terms.

The EIS has rejected a 1 per cent pay increase offer for 2017-18 from employers.

Motions on pay and possible strike action called on the union to “prepare a campaign to restore salaries to the values of the McCrone settlement, based on inflation figures, and to negotiate on this basis for next year’s pay settlement”.

It then adds failure to reach agreement would result in members being balloted on industrial action, including strike action, from the start of the 2018-19 academic year.

The EIS says salaries have a shortfall in value of 16.4 per cent according to the retail price index compared to the levels of the 2003 McCrone agreement to redress inequities in teachers’ salaries.

During the debate a delegate from West Dunbartonshire, where last year teachers went on strike over plans to alter the way schools were run, referring to employers, said: “If they are not prepared to listen to the force of our argument then they will have to listen to the argument of our force.”

Larry Flanagan, EIS general secretary, said the pay and conditions votes were a clear warning to employers.

“Today’s AGM has sent out a very strong message to local authority employers and the Scottish Government that action needs to be taken to address declining levels of teachers’ pay.

“Following more than a decade of declining pay, real-terms pay cuts and pay freezes, the mood of teachers is hardening.

“The soaring workload facing teachers, combined with the recruitment challenges facing the profession, highlight the need for salary levels to be addressed to ensure that teachers are paid at an appropriate level.”

Scottish Labour’s education spokesman Iain Gray said: “As a result of SNP mismanagement of education, college lecturers have already had to strike. It would be a disgrace if teachers were also forced to do that to get Mr Swinney to pay attention to his day job,” Gray said.

Liz Smith, MSP, Scottish Conservative shadow education spokeswoman, said strike action would be harmful for all concerned.

“Strike action benefits no-one and I would urge the EIS to use other means to debate their concerns.

“With the impending governance changes head teachers in Scotland’s schools will receive new powers. These changes should include greater freedoms to implement better structures for pay and conditions and the ability to improve the delivery of the curriculum for excellence.”