Teachers in Scotland set for further strike action as unions reject pay offer

All teaching unions in Scotland have rejected the latest pay offer as strike action looks set to continue.

The Scottish Government submitted a pay offer to teachers last week which was summarily dismissed by the unions.

Under that proposal, teachers earning under £40,107 would receive an increase of £1,926 per year – 6.85% for those on the lowest salaries – while those on more would get 5%.

In a letter released on Wednesday, the teacher panel of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) – the body that brings together staff, councils and government to negotiate pay – said the offer was “wholly unacceptable” and unions are “united in rejection”.

Teachers strike
Striking teachers staged a rally outside Holyrood last week (PA)

Des Morris, chairman of the panel, said: “In rejecting this proposal, we have highlighted the lack of improvement on the previous offer, which was itself rejected unanimously some three months ago.

“In addition to offering no tangible improvement, this proposal is also worse for many experienced teachers in promoted posts compared to the previous offer.

“This proposal also quite absurdly, given employers’ responsibilities around fair work and SNCT conditions of service, suggests that even more demands of teachers could have been made, adding to their already intolerable workloads, had employers chosen to do so.

“Also a red line is that the proposal offers a differentiated pay increase, which is something that teaching unions made clear from the very start would never be acceptable to Scotland’s teachers.”

Shirley-Anne Somerville
Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has said there is no more money for teachers’ pay (PA)

Scottish Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has repeatedly said there is no more cash for teachers’ pay, and any increase would have to come from elsewhere in the education budget.

But Mr Morris tasked local authority body Cosla and the Scottish Government to come back with a better offer.

“If the Scottish Government and Cosla are truly serious about reaching a pay settlement with Scotland’s teachers – and halting industrial action in our schools – then they must come back with a much more credible, fair, undifferentiated and substantially improved pay offer for all of Scotland’s teaching professionals,” he said.

“The offer that we have rejected unanimously today is neither credible nor fair, nor does it make any tangible improvement to the previously rejected offer.

“The united message from Scotland’s teaching unions and Scotland’s teachers is clear – the Scottish Government and Cosla need to stop the spin and get back to the negotiating table with a fair, credible and substantially improved, undifferentiated pay offer.”

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The NASUWT union plans to strike on December 7 and 8 – along with the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association – with action short of a strike due on December 9.

The Educational Institute of Scotland – the largest teaching union in the country – announced last week that teachers in every local authority in Scotland will walk out, two councils at a time, for 16 straight days after taking a single day of action last week.

This will follow action on January 10 for teachers in primary and special schools, as well as early years, and on January 11 for those working in secondary schools and secondary special schools.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “It is very disappointing that the teaching unions have rejected this fair and progressive offer which mirrors the deal accepted by other local government workers.

“Strikes are in no-one’s interest and this offer – the fourth offer which has gone to unions – would have meant a 21.8% cumulative increase in teacher pay since 2018.

“It is simply unaffordable to have a 10% increase which unions are asking for within the fixed budget which the Scottish Government is working in.”