Scotland’s schools could be facing strike action after negotiations on teachers’ pay broke down following the Scottish Government and local government body Cosla’s offer of a 5 per cent increase.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) and the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) teaching unions, campaigning for a 10 per cent increase, warned “the prospect of industrial action had moved significantly closer.”
The unions had already rejected an offer made on 18 September describing it as “derisory” and “divisive”.
The breakdown comes in the same week police officers north of the border were given a 6.5 per cent pay rise.
The teachers’ panel of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) had unanimously rejected the offer in terms of the 10 per cent claim saying it offered unpromoted teachers a slightly better deal than promoted members.
Last night Seamus Searson, general secretary of the SSTA said teachers’ pay has been eroded by 20 per cent over the past decade while workload has increased, leading to a record number of teachers quitting the profession and difficulties in retaining staff.
Mr Searson said: “The SSTA had believed the Government when it said it recognises and values the commitment and hard work of its teachers.
“The SSTA had also expected the Government to recognise the damage the austerity measures had made to the teaching profession and support and reward its teachers appropriately”.
“The SSTA salaries committee has already unanimously rejected the offer, but will consider the insulting response from the Government and determine the terms of the consultative ballot of its members.”
Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, said teachers’ pay has not risen in line with inflation.
“The EIS, and other unions, has offered constructive proposals for government to consider but in rejecting them out of hand, ministers have effectively dismissed the concerns of Scottish teachers.”
Iain Gray MSP, Scottish Labour education spokesman, said the delay in addressing the issue was affecting teacher recruitment and retention.
“Until and unless John Swinney and Nicola Sturgeon find the money to pay our teachers properly, and make the profession one an attractive one again, all their talk of education as a “priority” is just so much hot air.
“Schools across the country are facing the impact of £400 million real terms cuts to education budgets compared to 2010, and of a teacher recruitment crisis created by the SNP’s failure to support our teachers.”
Ross Greer MSP, Scottish Greens education spokesman, said: “Teachers are right to take a stand and they have the full support of the Scottish Greens in their attempts to win a fair pay package that reflects their essential work.
“Cosla and the Scottish Government must step up their offer and start to reverse the 20 per cent real-terms cut in pay over the last decade.”
John Swinney, MSP, Education Secretary and deputy First Minister, said: “The Scottish Government has worked with Cosla to put in place the best pay deal possible for 2018-19.
“This includes the Scottish Government contributing an additional £35m for teachers pay. This will result in all teachers on the main grade scale receiving at least a 5 per cent increase, with some teachers receiving up to 11 per cent in one year in conjunction with annual progression.
“The offer matches or betters other offers in the public sector in Scotland, for example 6.5 per cent for police officers over 31 months. We firmly believe that it is generous and fair and would encourage teachers to consider it favourably.
“The Scottish Government remains very happy to continue discussions with trade unions in securing a negotiated outcome.”