Targeted strikes by teachers in Scotland begin after latest pay offer rejected

Targeted strike action by teachers in Scotland has started as the dispute over pay continues.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) has been embroiled in a wage dispute with the Scottish government and Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) over the past year.

The union is singling out the constituencies of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister John Swinney, Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville, Scottish Green education spokesman Ross Greer and Katie Hagmann, the resources spokeswoman for local authority body COSLA.

'We would much rather be in the classroom'

Teacher Samantha McKenzie, who was protesting in Ms Somerville's Dunfermline constituency, told Sky News: "We were heartened to have so much support on the picket line this morning from Dunfermline folk.

"We would much rather be in the classroom with our children. We want to be teaching but we need a fair pay resolution.

"We all want this to be resolved soon and are standing together in solidarity."

Over the next three days the EIS members will be demonstrating in Glasgow Southside, Perthshire North, Dunfermline, and the part of Clydebank and Milngavie constituency that lies within the East Dunbartonshire Council area.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Swinney branded the strikes "indefensible".

A further three days of strike action will again take place in these areas as well as Ms Hagmann's Mid Galloway and Wigtown West ward in Dumfries and Galloway between 7 and 9 March.

This fresh action is on top of planned national strikes on 28 February and 1 March, and a further 20 days of rolling industrial action across all local authority areas from 13 March.

EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley said: "Parents and students have every right to be angry at the fact that local and national politicians continue to collude in withholding a fair settlement from Scotland's teachers.

"This is another part of the chronic underfunding of education both by national and local government in spite of the claims that education is a number one priority in this country."

The EIS recently rejected a fifth offer, which would have meant a 6% pay boost backdated to April 2022 for teachers who earn up to £80,000 and a further 5.5% from the start of the 2023 financial year.

The Scottish government has continually argued that there is not enough money to match the union's 10% demand.

Ms Bradley said after taking legal advice it is up to individual EIS members if they wish to enter into voluntary agreements with the Scottish Qualifications Authority to mark exam scripts.

'I am bitterly disappointed'

Ms Somerville, who has written an open letter to learners on the support available during school strikes, said: "I had hoped that everyone involved in this dispute would agree that pupils should not have the worry of disruption to exams hanging over them.

"I am bitterly disappointed, therefore, that the EIS is threatening continued industrial action in the run up to the exam diet."

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She has continually appealed to teaching unions to suspend industrial action as pay talks continue.

Ms Somerville added: "We are working with partners, including the SQA, local authorities and education directors, on contingencies for exams should industrial action continue.

"The National e-Learning Offer continues to offer a wide package of support that pupils preparing for exams can access from home while schools are closed."