Both sides must be willing to compromise in pay disputes

The coming seven days could see the most widespread and disruptive industrial action in Scotland for decades.

Teachers, paramedics and rail workers are scheduled to take action in the next week, with the postal workers, nurses and firefighters also on course to walk out this winter.

No-one would deny teachers and health care staf f in particular the pay rises they are demanding, with the current c risis merely highlighting years of under pay. The key workers we clapped during the pandemic are well within their rights to ask that, at the very least, their pay keeps up with the cost of living.

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But there also must be a reco gnition, whether the pay dispute is with the Scottish Government or Westminster, that they may not achieve all they want.

We have already seen the problems caused by the Scottish Government’s local authority pay deal, leading to widespread cuts elsewhere. And whoever you blame for the current crisis, the fact remains that we are in straitened times.

Both sides must be prepared to compromise and pull out all the stops to avoid strike action which has the potential to cripple public services.

Teachers’ leaders said over the weekend they were “very hopeful” a fresh pay deal would be made ahead of Thursday’s planned shutdown.

Parents across the country will be waiting anxiously in the coming days to see if this comes to fruition. The first national strike over teachers’ pay for almost 40 years, after all, follows years of disruption to children’s learning caused by the pandemic.

The Scotsman would urge both the EIS and the Scottish Government to pull out all the stops to get a deal across the line.

And we would also hope in the future that pay negotiations could be conducted properly without the need to threaten chaos before governments come to the table.

Everyone is feeling the impact of the cost of living crisis, and it is, sadly, only going to get worse over the winter. Avoiding the additional nightmare of schools shutting down, ambulance cover reduced and hospitals on a skeleton service should be the number one priority in both Downing Street and Bute House.