Teaching unions hit out at Scottish Government for "duplicitous” pay offer letter

Written by Gemma Fraser on 2 November 2018 in News

The EIS has accused John Swinney and COSLA of interfering in the pay offer ballot 

Image credit: Connect 

A war of words has broken out between the Scottish Government and Scotland’s biggest teaching union after a letter sent to teachers detailing a pay offer was described as “duplicitous”.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) has condemned the letter sent to all teachers by Education Secretary John Swinney and council umbrella body COSLA saying that the figures are outlined in a “misleading” way.

The EIS – which is campaigning for a ten per cent pay rise - opened a ballot on the pay offer earlier this week and is urging its members to reject it.

But Swinney has consistently described the three per cent offer as “generous and fair”.

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The EIS has already voiced its serious concerns over the Scottish Government and COSLA seeking to interfere in a legitimate trade union ballot by writing to teachers in this way.

“While the basic figures included in the letter are accurate, they have been laid out in a way that is profoundly misleading. The table indicating salary rises for teachers on the main grade scale creates a false impression of the proposed new salaries for teachers.

“The letter also cites incremental progression as part of the pay uplift, but those teachers due increments as a contractual entitlement, have been receiving such since 1 August.

“It is completely mendacious to imply that wages you are already earning, should be included as part of a new pay offer.”

Flanagan added: “The Scottish Government and COSLA have let themselves down in seeking to interfere in the EIS ballot in this manner. It is against the spirit of the Fair Work Convention, which both claim to champion, and adds nothing to the factual information which the EIS has already communicated in full to its members.”

The letter, signed by Swinney and Councillor Gail Macgregor, COSLA’s resources spokesperson, said it understood teachers’ frustrations, but that every public sector worker has faced “difficult pay settlements for a number of years”.

It continued: “This deal would see a three per cent increase for all staff earning up to £80,000, with a flat rate increase of £1,600 for those earning more than £80,000 from 1 April 2018. This reflects the offer made to all other employees in the local government workforce by COSLA.

“By way of example, a teacher at the top of the main grade scale would receive a pay increase of £1,094 with effect from 1 April 2018.

“We firmly believe that this is a fair offer which demonstrates that both local government and the Scottish Government value the teaching profession.

“We are disappointed that it has been rejected by the teacher unions.

“The teacher unions’ claim for ten per cent in a single year cannot be achieved.

“It is simply unaffordable, and the unions have been told this since their claim was submitted at the start of the year.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said the letter was not sent out to undermine the due process, but to ensure teachers understand the offer.

He said: “The Scottish Government has worked with COSLA to put in place the best pay deal in the UK for 2018-19 and our joint letter accurately explains the component parts so that teachers have a full understanding of the proposals on the table.

“The letter in no way undermines the democratic role of the teaching unions in this process nor change our joint commitment to continue discussions with teaching unions in good faith.”

Iain Gray, Labour's education spokesman, said: "The SNP's handling of industrial relations with our teachers has hit another low today.

“The way out of this dispute is for the Scottish Government and COSLA to make teachers an offer which goes some way to restoring the pay they have seen eroded year on year, and the Scottish Government to commit to providing the funding required for that.

“Trying to circumvent the negotiations, or undermine Trade Unions will only further anger teachers who already feel that their legitimate complaints are being treated with disrespect.”

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