Teaching union defers strike action after members show support for new pay deal

A teaching union in Scotland has agreed to defer industrial action which was set to take place next week after members “marginally” voted to accept a new pay offer from the Scottish Government.

The national executive of the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA) “unanimously” agreed to defer strike action on Tuesday February 28 and Wednesday March 1 after a consultation with their members showed a small majority would vote in favour of the Scottish Government’s new pay deal.

Under the plans announced by Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville last week, teachers earning up to £80,000 would see their pay rise by 6% from April 2022, and then another 5.5% from the start of the 2023 financial year.

A survey of all SSTA members was undertaken to gauge members’ views on the pay offer.

The union said, in a statement on their website on Friday evening, their position had been to “build strike action, apply pressure on the Scottish Government and Cosla” and to bring the dispute to a settlement.

Results showed a wide range of views, highlighting the strong feelings of members on pay and workload.

Although the SSTA consultation showed members would vote in favour of the pay offer, it has been rejected by the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) – which includes the Scottish Government, local authority body Cosla and the unions – and the offer therefore fell. 

The union will reinstate industrial action should an improved pay offer not be forthcoming.

Meanwhile, members of the EIS concluded three days of targeted strike action in the constituencies of Glasgow Southside (Nicola Sturgeon), Perthshire North (John Swinney), Dunfermline (Shirley-Anne Somerville), and Clydebank & Milngavie (Ross Greer).

They will participate in another round of targeted action between March 7 and 9.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “I welcome these results and the SSTA decision to postpone the planned strike action next week – and to accept the latest pay offer. This follows AHDS members also voting in favour of acceptance earlier this week and calling off their scheduled strike action too.

“The latest offer would mean an 11.5% pay increase, or £5,000, for most teachers in April – and a cumulative increase of almost 30% since January 2018. It is my hope that EIS will follow their union colleagues and give their members the opportunity to consider this strong offer, and postpone their planned industrial action while they do.

“We are absolutely determined to do all we can to resolve this dispute and end this worry for children, young people, parents, carers, and teachers, too, who, I know, want to be back in the classroom.”