Sturgeon: 10% pay rise for teachers 'not affordable'

Written by Gemma Fraser on 22 November 2018 in News

The First Minister says the Scottish Government will go back to the table with unions to try to reach a "fair and affordable agreement"

Image credit: Parliament TV 

Nicola Sturgeon has said that giving teachers the ten per cent pay rise they have asked for is “simply not affordable”.

Teachers overwhelmingly voted against accepting the Scottish Government’s pay deal earlier this week, with 98 per cent rejecting the three per cent offer.

Sturgeon said that those involved in the pay negotiations – unions, COSLA and the Scottish Government – will need to “go back to the table to agree a fair and affordable agreement” – but insisted the desired ten per cent rise could not be met.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, she said: “Pay awards need to be affordable, because if they are not affordable, they cannot be delivered.

“I would love to give teachers and all public sector workers a 10 per cent pay rise, but that is simply not affordable in a single year.

“We need to go back to the table to agree a fair and affordable agreement—the Scottish Government will play our full part in that—just as the Scottish Government has reached agreement with nurses, other healthcare workers and police officers.

“The Scottish Government will continue that work in good faith. I hope that we can, before too much longer, reach a fair and reasonable agreement.”

Patrick Harvie, Scottish Greens co-convener, said: “I am glad that the First Minister respects the mandate that has been given by the rejection of the deal by 98 per cent of those who were balloted.

“The only conclusion to be drawn from that is that that deal need no longer be defended on its own terms. It is gone; it will not happen.

“We all want to avoid the prospect of strike action, which would be the last resort for the teaching unions. However, if we accept that the offer that was made is dead and gone, and has been rejected, the choice is now simple.

“Will the Scottish Government force the teaching profession—who are already angry people—into industrial action that we should all try to avoid, or will it work towards a realistic offer, and give local councils the resources that they need to meet it?”

The EIS is now considering its next step, which could involve strike action.

EIS President Alison Thornton said: "The EIS continues to hope for a negotiated agreement, but we are fully prepared to ballot for industrial action should this be necessary to secure a fair deal.

“We urge the Scottish Government and COSLA to return to the negotiating table with a greatly improved offer, before it is too late."

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