All teachers in Scotland must be handed a 10 per cent pay rise this year if the SNP is serious about education being its “number one priority”, the country’s largest teaching union has said.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) said teachers’ pay had fallen in value by a fifth over the past decade, causing poor morale and staff shortages in schools.
Its demand for a 10 per cent pay rise in 2018 would be significantly higher than the offer made by the Scottish Government to public sector workers in its draft Budget.
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said last month that those earning less than £30,000 a year would be given a 3 per cent rise, with those earning more handed 2 per cent.
The EIS has already said a 2 per cent offer would be unacceptable, warning that strikes in Scottish schools will be “inevitable” in the coming months if ministers did not budge.
Earlier this week the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) said 64 per cent of its members were willing to stage walkouts to secure an above inflation pay rise.
The 2018/19 pay settlement for Scotland’s teachers will be decided by the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT), which includes members from teaching organisations, councils and the Scottish Government.
Ahead of the talks, the EIS has launched a campaign highlighting 10 reasons why teachers should be given a 10 per cent rise, arguing that it would help to attract more people into the profession.
The union said the only way for Scotland to have a “world class education system” was to “fund the service fully and to invest in teachers”.
Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly stated that improving education is her government’s “number one priority” after studies showed pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills worsening and the nation sliding down international league tables.
“If our employers and the Scottish Government are serious about valuing education, they also need to value us as teachers,” said EIS president Nicola Fisher, a primary teacher from Glasgow.
“This means paying us a fair wage, which compares favourably to other professions and to teachers in other countries.”
The union’s general secretary Larry Flanagan added: “For the teachers who deliver the government’s number one priority – the education of our young people – to be so severely undervalued is something that simply cannot continue.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Teachers’ pay is a matter for the SNCT and negotiations for 2018-19 will begin once the unions have formally lodged their pay claims. [We] will play our part in those discussions.
“It should be noted this government was the first in the UK to commit to lift the 1 per cent public sector pay cap, and the teachers’ pay deal for 2017/18 reflects this commitment.”