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by Margaret Taylor
10 March 2023
School strikes called off as Scotland's largest teaching union accepts pay deal

School strikes called off as Scotland's largest teaching union accepts pay deal

Scotland’s largest teaching union, the EIS, has voted overwhelmingly in favour of accepting the latest pay offer put to it by the Scottish Government last week.

On a turnout of 82 per cent, 90 per cent of members voted to accept the offer, which will see pay levels increase by almost 15 per cent by next January.

EIS general secretary Andrea Bradley said that while the deal falls short of what teachers had been asking for, members had made the “pragmatic decision” to take the “best deal that can realistically be achieved in the current political and financial climate”.

It comes after members of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) also voted to accept the deal despite concerns over the fact that increases have been capped.

A total of 85 per cent of SSTA members backed the deal on a turnout of 80 per cent, but its general secretary Seamus Searson said the cap on increases represents “a considerable barrier in the professional career structure for secondary school teachers".

Under the terms of the deal teachers will receive a 7 per cent increase for the current financial year, with the rise capped at £5,600, plus 5 per cent (capped at £4,000) in April and a further 2 per cent (capped at £1,600) in January next year.

“The acceptance of this offer will mean that, for most teachers, their pay will increase by 12.3 per cent by next month in comparison to current pay levels,” said Bradley.

“This includes a backdated 7 per cent increase from April 2022, and a 5 per cent increase from this April. Teachers will also receive a further 2 per cent increase in pay from January next year, with the next pay settlement then scheduled to be negotiated and payable from August 2024 onwards.

“EIS members have taken a pragmatic decision in voting to accept the current pay offer. While it does not meet our aspirations in respect of a restorative pay settlement for Scotland’s teachers, it is the best deal that can realistically be achieved in the current political and financial climate without further prolonged industrial action.

“It compares favourably with recent pay settlements across the public sector, and does provide pay certainty for Scotland’s teachers for the next 16 months until the next pay settlement is scheduled to be delivered in August 2024.”

The EIS, which has been staging rolling strike action that has closed schools across Scotland since the end of last year, called off all future action when the pay deal was announced.

It had previously rejected a series of offers that had been presented by education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville as “fair, affordable, and sustainable for everyone involved”.

The NASUWT union has yet to announce the result of its ballot on the deal but, unlike the EIS and SSTA, which both recommend members accept the offer, it did not welcome what was put on the table by the government.

Its general secretary Patrick Roach called it a “paltry improvement” on the previous offer that was “likely to be viewed as too little too late” while Mike Corbett, NASUWT national official for Scotland, said it “remains a significant pay cut for teachers however it is dressed up”.

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