Scotland teacher strikes: Nicola Sturgeon says union leaders must 'comprise' on pay

​Nicola Sturgeon has stressed union leaders must “compromise" as she claimed her Government would do "everything in our power" to prevent teachers from striking during this year's exams.

The First Minister said she hoped a deal could be reached to bring an end to the pay dispute, which has seen schools closed by industrial action. But she said achieving this would require "compromise" from all parties involved in pay talks.

She spoke amid an ongoing dispute over pay, which saw teachers first walk out in November last year.

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And as the the EIS – Scotland's largest teaching union – brought the latest phase of industrial action to a close, the body’s general secretary Andrea Bradley insisted the only way to "absolutely" avoid any disruption to exams was for the Scottish Government to stump up additional cash.

Teachers have completed the final action from a rolling 16 days of strikes. Picture: Jon Rigby
Teachers have completed the final action from a rolling 16 days of strikes. Picture: Jon Rigby
Teachers have completed the final action from a rolling 16 days of strikes. Picture: Jon Rigby

Ms Bradley said if the Scottish Government and council leaders in Cosla "wish to avoid any further disruption to children and young people's learning, and if they wish to absolutely avoid any risk to the preparation for the exam diet, then, they have to do what is within their power and bring resource to the table that can be configured within a settlement that could be credibly considered by our members".

She insisted: "That's the way that we avoid any further disruption to education, and the risk of the exam diet being at all affected by the action that our members are being forced to take."

The EIS general secretary, speaking yesterday from a picket line in Greenock, Inverclyde, said: "This pay claim will have been on the desks of the Scottish Government and Cosla for a year tomorrow.

"It was on their desks months before last year's exam diet began. They've had 12 months to bring forward an acceptable resolution to this dispute and they haven't yet done so."

Ms Bradley spoke out as teachers in the Inverclyde and Shetland areas took part in strike action, with the final day of a 16-day programme of rolling regional strikes.

Teachers' unions now plan two further national strike days, on February 28 and March 1, with further regional action set to take place after that.

The union's strike action runs until until the middle of May, Ms Bradley added, vowing the EIS "will be looking to renew that mandate should we need to".

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Ms Sturgeon stressed the Scottish Government's "very strong desire" to reach a deal to end the strikes, with the First Minister adding the prospect of disruption to exams "would concern me".

Contingency arrangements are being made in case strikes take place during the exam diet, but Ms Sturgeon said: "I very much hope they are not necessary. We will do everything in our power to avoid any such need for contingency plans of that nature."

She added: "I hope we will see the spirit of compromise that is necessary to reach a resolution to this dispute."

Speaking at a press conference in Edinburgh, the First Minister said: "Nobody in Government, nobody in local authorities and, I am in no doubt, no teacher, will want to see further disruption to the education of young people." But she insisted any deal must be both fair and affordable.

Teachers have rejected a deal which would see most classroom staff receive a 5 per cent pay increase, although the lowest earners would get a 6.85 per cent pay hike. Instead, the EIS is demanding a 10% increase.



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