Teachers have taken their campaign for higher wages to Nicola Sturgeon’s doorstep as union members demonstrated outside Bute House while thousands walked out of their classrooms.
Alison Murphy, local secretary of Edinburgh’s Educational Institute of Scotland branch, led protests outside the First Minister’s official address in the capital on Wednesday as members of the union called for a 10% rise.
And Andrene Bamford, the union’s national president, told the crowd the rate of inflation was “still crazy” and added: “If we don’t get a decent pay settlement our wages will be further eroded.”
She said: “If the Scottish Government say they have no money, well, they need to take their budget back to the drawing board and they need to think again.”
And Ms Bamford told the crowd outside the townhouse in Charlotte Square: “Here is a message for the Government – don’t resort to Tory tactics of using language that others the unions.”
The Scottish Government has said that the 10% rise wanted by EIS members was “unaffordable”, and made an offer which would see most teachers get a 5% rise with the lowest paid getting 6.85%.
But striker Julie McGarvey denounced it as “spin” by the Scottish Government.
“They have an underspend of £2 billion of their budget that they never spent last year, they could increase taxes in other areas, it’s not true that they could not afford that,” she said.
Some secondary school pupils also joined the picket line with their fellow teachers.
Sixteen-year-old Adam Ballard, of the newly formed Edinburgh High School Students’ Union, told protesters: “Whether a strike will impact on my learning or not, we all stand with you in support of a 10% pay rise.”
Ben Cormie, 14, Lucy Crosbie, 13, and Isla Cormie, 17, were also among secondary students showing their support to teachers, too.
Isla, an S6 student, said: “(Our teachers) deserve more than 10%, definitely.
“Ms Crosbie, she does everything for us, she is the best, so we just want to support them the most that we can in any way possible.”
And her history teacher, Alison Crosbie, said: “Every teacher here would agree that a huge part of the reason that we’re here is for the young people that we teach because they deserve the best education that we can give them.
“And they deserve all of our support, they deserve teachers who are not overworked, who are not under enormous pressure, for long, long periods of time in our working day.
“For our young people, we just want to be heard, and we just want to understand we make a vital contribution to society and we want to be the best leaders that we can be for our young people.”