Teacher strike action a 'step closer'
Unions warn of industrial action as pay negotiations break down once again
Image credit: Bart Everson
Teacher pay talks have broken down with unions warning strike action has moved “significantly closer”.
The body representing teachers in the pay negotiations had previously rejected the three per cent offer as “derisory”.
Today’s talks broke down once again after the Scottish Government and COSLA failed to increase the pay offer.
Education Secretary John Swinney insists the offer is “generous and fair”, but unions are warning of possible strike action amid increasing unrest among teachers.
Seamus Searson, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA), said: “The prospect of industrial action had moved significantly closer as a result of the Scottish Government’s decision to abandon the talks rather than seeking to negotiate a solution.
“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.”
He added: “The SSTA and other unions had offered constructive proposals for government and COSLA to consider but in rejecting them out of hand, ministers have effectively dismissed the concerns of Scottish teachers.
“It is shameful that Scottish ministers have walked away from the negotiating table in this manner.
“The prospect of industrial unrest in Scotland’s schools in the coming months has moved a significant step closer as a result of the government’s abandonment of talks. Teachers will be disappointed and angry by this latest development.”
A spokesperson for the teachers’ side of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers said the lack of an increased offer was a particularly harsh blow after police officers were given a 6.5 per cent pay increase.
It also comes after a recent report by international economists OECD revealed that Scottish teachers, on average, are working the longest hours of any in the developed world.
The EIS teaching union said it will hold an emergency meeting next week to determine the terms of consultative ballot of its members.
EIS general secretary, Larry Flanagan, said: “In a week when a letter from a primary teacher has revealed the low state of morale amongst Scottish teachers, the Deputy First Minister has shown that he isn’t listening. Teachers will be disappointed and angry.
“The prospect of industrial unrest in Scotland’s schools has moved a significant step closer as a result of the Government’s abandonment of talks.”
But the Scottish Government is urging teachers to consider its offer “favourably”.
Education secretary John Swinney 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 £35 million for teachers pay.
“This will result in all teachers on the main grade scale receiving at least a five 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."
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The equivalent of 13 new schools will need to be built in Scotland to meet the shortfall
Members of the EIS have rejected the revised offer, despite members of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association voting to accept it
The result from the EIS ballot is still to come in, meaning strike action remains an option