Teachers in Scotland move closer to ‘strike readiness’ in row over pay

Written by: Sam Phipps | Published:

Scottish teachers look set to step up their campaign for a 10 per cent pay rise by “building towards a state of strike readiness”.

That is the wording of a motion from the ruling council of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), whose members gather in Dundee this week for their annual general meeting. It could result in a strike ballot during the next school session, due to start in mid August.

Other branches of the EIS – in Edinburgh, South Lanarkshire and East Renfrewshire – have made similar calls for strike action. Earlier this year teachers dismissed an offer of a three per cent rise as “unacceptable” and said they were considering walking out of the classroom unless it was improved.

Larry Flanagan, the union’s general secretary, said erosion of pay in real terms had greatly damaged recruitment and retention.

However, the Council of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) has insisted it can only offer teachers a rise in line with other public sector workers and would therefore not go above its “best and final” offer of three per cent.

Cosla has now written to the Scottish government suggesting that if the SNP administration wants teachers to get a bigger increase, it should offer the same to other workers and fund the deal on those lines.

“Following more than a decade of austerity and real-terms pay cuts totalling more the 20 per cent teachers have simply had enough and are not prepared to accept it anymore,” Mr Flanagan said.

“The message to local authorities and the Scottish government is clear – if you truly value education, you also need to value teachers by paying them a professional salary.

“The delivery of a 10 per cent pay increase for all teachers this year is an essential first step to restoring teachers’ pay to an appropriate level, and starting to address the teacher recruitment and retention problems facing schools across Scotland.”

Tavish Scott, education spokesman for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said: “Teachers want a fair financial settlement and a recognition of their workload. Schools have teaching vacancies across Scotland and this is why. The Scottish government need to immediately launch a new McCrone review, to properly assess teachers’ terms and conditions. Teaching must be a valued, professional career that people want to follow.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “We value teachers highly and are providing £112 million this year to fund councils to maintain teacher numbers, including the recent teacher pay award.

“We urge everyone around the table to take a constructive approach. It should be noted this government was the first in the UK to commit to lift the one per cent public sector pay cap.”

The EIS estimates that teachers’ pay has fallen by about 13 per cent since the financial crash of 2007/08. An OECD report last year found the value of pay for secondary staff in Scotland was ranked 19th out of 37 countries, down from eighth in 2007.


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