Teachers’ union claims it was ‘excluded’ from new pay talks
A teaching union that is warning of further strike action has claimed it was “excluded” from new talks with the Education Secretary in the ongoing pay dispute.
The NASUWT, whose members took part in the two days of strike action alongside the EIS on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, said talks with other education unions had taken place without their knowledge.
Education Secretary Shirley Anne-Somerville held talks with the EIS union on Tuesday afternoon and said the discussions were “very useful”, and touched on possible “areas of compromise” to stop the dispute.
She said: “Everyone around the table all agreed: we don’t want to see this dispute going on for any longer than it needs to, and we want to see children back in the classroom learning in front of their teachers.”
Talks took place again on Wednesday afternoon, the PA news agency understands.
NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said members of the union will “not accept” backroom deals.
A useful discussion with @EISUnion today. The talks are ongoing and we’ve agreed to meet again tomorrow. https://t.co/QADiGHxzeS
— Shirley-Anne Somerville (@S_A_Somerville) February 28, 2023
He said: “We are seeking clarity as to why the NASUWT is being excluded from talks to end the pay dispute on which our members are again taking strike action today.
“NASUWT members rejected the revised pay offer of 6% with effect from April 2022 and 5.5% with effect from April 2023. With the rate of inflation remaining at almost its 40-year high point, this offer still represented a real-terms pay cut.
“Our members have set out their demands very clearly and remain resolute and will not accept dodgy deals cooked up behind closed doors.”
Pay talks between the Scottish Government, local government employers’ body Cosla and teaching unions generally take place through the Scottish Negotiating Council for Teachers.
It is not clear whether the talks held between the Scottish Government and EIS are formal pay talks.
NASUWT’s Scotland Official, Mike Corbett, demanded talks with the Education Secretary.
He said: “Rather than spending her time tweeting about secret talks that exclude trade unions, the Cabinet Secretary needs to be speaking with the only other remaining Union that is in dispute with the Government and employers and on strike today.
“Our members expect to be involved in meaningful discussions about the pay dispute and will not accept backroom deals designed to exclude them.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Corbett told the PA news agency there could be further strike action from the union.
He said: “Our strike action programme was up to and including today and I suppose our action committee probably hoped that that would be enough and we would have resolved the dispute by now, but it doesn’t look like we have, so our action committee will meet again and review where we’re at.
“We do have a programme of action short of strike action in schools at the moment so that’s there still to try and put pressure on employers to come to a resolution to the dispute.
“Certainly there’s potential for more strike action, obviously in a secondary school like the one we’re standing outside we’ve got exam season coming after Easter, and we would be reluctant, I think, to disrupt exam season, disrupt exams and the pupils’ potential achievements.”
Meanwhile, the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association has deferred strike action after a small majority of members said they would accept the new pay offer put to teachers which would be 11.5% over two years with 6% in 2022-23 and a further 5.5% in 2023-24.
The EIS salaries committee rejected the pay offer, as did members of the NASUWT.