This week, students won’t attend class because teachers nationwide have started a two-day strike.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) and NASUWT union members will be walking out on Tuesday and Wednesday over their protracted pay dispute, closing several schools across the nation.
It follows three days of “targeted” strike action by EIS members last week in four political hotspots, including those First Minister Nicola Sturgeon represented, and countrywide strikes by numerous unions in January and late last year.
However, in the hopes of receiving a better salary offer soon, members of the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA) decided to postpone the industrial action scheduled for February 28 and March 1.
According to a member survey, they would only just barely vote in favor of accepting the most recent salary offer from the Scottish Government.
Following a vote in favor of accepting the accord, the Association of Headteachers and Deputies in Scotland (AHDS) also decided against participating in additional strikes.
Teachers making up to £80,000 would receive a 6% pay increase starting in April 2022 under the most recent proposal made public by Scotland’s Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville earlier this month, followed by a 5.5% increase beginning with the 2023 fiscal year.
The NASUWT claimed that its members are “determined” to carry out strike action moving forward.
The decision of our members to reject the amended wage offer and continue with industrial action, according to Dr. Patrick Roach, general secretary of NASUWT, “reflects the amount of anger and frustration towards ministers and employers at their failure to provide teachers a real-terms pay hike.”
The Scottish Government and Cosla, who appear to expect teachers to be content with yet another year of pay erosion as their workloads continually increase, have left teachers feeling like they are being taken advantage of.
“The majority of members who participated in our consultative survey regarding the most recent pay award supported ongoing industrial action to obtain a better pay offer.
Members are prepared to keep fighting for a salary award that is commensurate with their labor and abilities.
Governments and employers should understand the resolve of our members and collaborate with us to forward plans to raise wages and working standards that the profession can sustain.
“EIS members remain utterly resolute in their determination to win a fair pay settlement from the Scottish Government and Cosla,” said EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley.
“This two-day nationwide strike action is just another unmistakable indicator that teachers in Scotland are unwilling to accept the significant real-terms pay decrease that is being proposed for them.
With more teachers joining picket lines on each strike day, “support for the ongoing program of strike action is quite high.”
The 10% rise that the EIS is requesting, according to the Scottish Government, is unaffordable.
The continued disruption of young people’s education caused by teacher strikes, according to Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville, is wholly unacceptable. Simply because of where they reside, students in some communities are being impacted particularly hard by targeted action.
“The unions have now been presented with five pay offers. With the most recent offer, most teachers would have received an 11.5% pay increase in April, or £5000, for a total pay increase of nearly 30% since January 2018. I’m happy that the offer was accepted and the strike this week has been postponed by the SSTA and AHDS members. Without even giving their members an opportunity to think about it, the EIS rejected it immediately. It is really sad, and I’m certain that several members would have appreciated the opportunity to thoughtfully consider this most recent offer.
Yet as time goes on and we don’t make any headway, the disruption to schooling gets worse, especially as test season approaches. With the disruption caused by the epidemic that students have already experienced, this would truly be the worst conceivable conclusion. And I’m aware that nobody wants that, least of all teachers.
“I’ve urged the teaching unions to immediately reopen compensation negotiations. To move this along, I am willing to meet with you and the Deputy First Minister each and every day this week, if required. We are steadfastly committed to doing all in our power to settle this conflict and put an end to the anxiety that it is causing for kids, teens, parents, and teachers—who, I know, want to return to the classroom. This week presents an opportunity to step up conversations and negotiations in order to reach a settlement; I hope the unions will recognize this and act appropriately. To halt industrial action during these negotiations would be a fantastic statement of their intentions.