Scotland teacher strike: Teaching strike to go ahead as new pay offer rejected

Scotland's biggest union of teachers will take industrial action on Thursday after a new pay offer was branded "insulting".

Employer Cosla made the fresh proposal which will see rises of up to 6.85 per cent.

It was an improvement on the previous offer of 5 per cent but still well below the 10 per cent the unions want.

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The boss of Scotland’s largest teaching union has blasted a pay offer aimed at averting strikes later this week as “nothing less than an abject insult” as school staff carry on preparations to walk out on Thursday.

Teachers in Scotland have voted to strike in a dispute over pay Picture: John Devlin

The Scottish Government made a new offer to the EIS (Educational Institute of Scotland) and SSTA (Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association) unions on Tuesday in a bid to prevent industrial action, with the former set to strike this week.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville had urged union leaders to postpone action to consider the offer, but the EIS unanimously rejected the plea, with its general secretary Andrea Bradley describing the offer as “nothing less than an abject insult to Scotland’s hard-working teaching professionals”.

“Teachers overwhelmingly rejected a 5% offer more than three months ago and now, after months of prevarication and weeks of empty promises, Cosla and the Scottish Government come back with an offer that is worth that same 5% to the vast majority of teachers,” said Ms Bradley.

“This is not, as the Scottish Government claims, a progressive offer – it is a divisive offer, made on a differentiated basis, which is actually worse for many teachers in promoted posts.”

Under the proposals, teachers earning less than £40,107 will receive an increase of £1,926 per year, 6.85% for those on the lowest salaries, while those earning more will receive a 5% increase, and those earning more than £60,000 will receive a £3,000 boost.

A Scottish Government spokesman said it was “very disappointing that the EIS has rejected this fair and progressive offer which mirrors the deal accepted by other local government workers”.

“Strikes are in no-one’s interest and this offer – the fourth offer which has gone to unions – would have meant a 21.8% cumulative increase in teacher pay since 2018,” the spokesman said.

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“It is simply unaffordable to have a 10% increase which unions are asking for within the fixed budget which the Scottish Government is working in.”

As well as the EIS, which rejected the deal after a special meeting of its salaries committee, a SSTA spokesman described the deal as a “very disappointing pay offer”.

“The unions have been led down the garden path by Cosla and the Scottish government and tell us they care about teachers and value their commitment over the last few years,” the spokesman said.

“This offer will not go down well with teachers and I would expect the planned strikes to go ahead. Maybe they will listen to parents and children as they are not listening to teachers.”

And NASUWT said its members backed industrial action, with a ballot winning 92% support a strike and 96% backing action short on strike. The turnout was almost 64%.

Mike Corbett, the union’s national official in Scotland, said members were “angry, demoralised and have had enough”.

“They are sick of being expected to put up with declining wages while working ever harder to meet the increasing challenges being faced in our schools,” he said.

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“They are facing increasing financial hardship with more teachers having to cut back on basic necessities.”

NASUWT members will strike on December 7 and 8 and take action short of strike from December 9.

When Ms Sommerville announced the pay deal, she described it as a “fair offer which recognises that the cost-of-living crisis is the priority, with higher increases for staff on lower salaries”.

“This is now the fourth offer that has been made. In the same time, EIS have not changed their request for a 10% pay increase – even for those on the highest incomes.

“I have been clear that we have limited room for manoeuvre.

“The financial situation for the Scottish Government is challenging and additional money for teacher pay means reduced public services elsewhere.

“In these challenging times it is important we focus our attention on those who are most impacted by the cost-of-living crisis, as well as ensuring fairness to all public sector workers.”

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And Katie Hagmann, resources spokeswoman at council umbrella body Cosla, said the new offer was “fair, affordable and recognises that the cost-of-living crisis is the priority”.

But Ms Bradley said it is neither “an improved, realistic, progressive or generous offer” and her members will see it as a “kick in the teeth from their employers and the Scottish Government”.

“Our programme of strike action, which will commence as scheduled on Thursday, will clearly show the strength of feeling of Scotland’s teachers who will be out in numbers and with strong voice on picket lines and at regional rallies,” she said.

And Ms Somerville’s political opponent’s at Holyrood have criticised the Education Secretary.

Stephen Kerr, the Scottish Conservative’s education spokesman, said she had been “missing in action as strikes have loomed large for months”.

““It should never have reached the stage where the SNP Government were scrambling around at the eleventh hour trying to strike a deal with teachers, and it’s no surprise that this last-gasp offer has been rejected,” he said.

“This whole saga has shown that Shirley-Anne Somerville lacks the leadership required to resolve disputes satisfactorily.

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“The SNP have been found out and their last-minute decision that education is actually a priority for them has been too little too late. This is a shocking failure, letting down pupils, parents and teachers.”



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