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by Kirsteen Paterson
22 November 2022
Teacher strikes: Union rejects 'insulting' Scottish Government offer

Teacher strikes: Union rejects 'insulting' Scottish Government offer

Scotland's largest teaching union has said its members will begin strike action later this week after rejecting a pay offer it described as "an insult".

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) said the latest offer put forward by the Scottish Government and Cosla offered no additional money, adding that for some of its members, it was a worse offer than those previously rejected. 

Earlier, the government had outlined a new pay deal in a bid to avoid industrial action that is set to cancel classes this week.

But EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley said: “This offer is nothing less than an abject insult to Scotland’s hard-working teaching professionals.

“Teachers overwhelmingly rejected a five per cent offer more than three months ago and now, after months of prevarication and weeks of empty promises, Cosla and the Scottish Government come back with an offer than is worth that same five per cent to the vast majority of teachers.

“This is not, as the Scottish Government claims, a progressive offer – it is a divisive offer, made on a differentiated basis, which is actually worse for many teachers in promoted posts.”

The deal is the fourth to be made to the workforce and would increase the starting salary for a newly qualified teacher to £35,650 – more than £7,500 higher than the starting salary paid in England.

Lower-paid teachers will receive an increase of up to 6.85 per cent, while classroom teachers on the main grade scale, who benefit from pay progression, will receive an increase in one year of more than 10 per cent.

Those on the top pay grade will receive a five per cent boost to £44,453, and probationers moving into fully qualified posts will receive an annual salary increase of 27 per cent.

The package from employer Cosla represents "a cumulative pay increase for the majority of teachers of 21.8 per cent since 2018", the Scottish Government said.

Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: "This is a fair offer which recognises that the cost-of-living crisis is the priority, with higher increases for staff on lower salaries. This is now the fourth offer that has been made. In the same time, EIS have not changed their request for a 10 per cent pay increase, even for those on the highest incomes.

"I have been clear that we have limited room for manoeuvre. The financial situation for the Scottish Government is challenging and additional money for teacher pay means reduced public services elsewhere.

"In these challenging times it is important we focus our attention on those who are most impacted by the cost-of-living crisis, as well as ensuring fairness to all public sector workers. I would urge leadership to postpone plans for industrial action and consider this new offer."

Cosla, the umbrella body for Scotland's 32 councils, called on the EIS to "postpone Thursday's strike".

Meanwhile, Katie Hagmann of Cosla said: "Scottish local government values its entire workforce, of which teachers are a key part. We have this afternoon made a revised fourth offer to our trade union colleagues. It is fair, affordable and recognises that the cost-of-living crisis is the priority, with higher increases for staff on lower pay points.

"This is in line with the offers made to all other parts of the public sector."

Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Stephen Kerr commented: "It should never have reached the stage where the SNP government are scrambling around at the eleventh hour trying to strike a deal with teachers."

He went on: "Even if this offer is ultimately accepted, this whole saga has shown that Shirley-Anne Somerville lacks the leadership required to resolve disputes satisfactorily. Only at the last minute have the SNP sprung into action and decided education is actually a priority for them after all."

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