Scottish teacher pay strike: 24 hours to avert action


Scotland’s biggest teachers’ union has set out the timeline it is working to, including the last moment the government could table a fresh pay offer.

Teacher strike action over pay will go ahead in Scotland on Thursday unless “a substantially improved offer” is made by the Scottish government and councils in the next 24 hours, according to EIS general secretary Andrea Bradley.

Speaking to Tes Scotland this afternoon, Ms Bradley set out the schedule that the union has put in place ahead of what would be the first national teacher strike over pay in almost 40 years.

Ms Bradley said a new pay offer would have to be with the union before its salaries committee meets for the last time before Thursday’s planned strike, at 4.30pm tomorrow (Tuesday 22 November).

It is the salaries committee that decides if an offer is acceptable and one it would be willing to recommend to the union’s members.

It is then up to the EIS executive committee to call off the industrial action; a meeting of the executive committee is scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Ms Bradley said: “It is the salaries committee that considers the worth of any offer, and if they think it is strong enough they would memo our executive committee asking for the strike to be suspended in order for members to be consulted on the offer. It is the executive committee that decides if strike action will be called, suspended or cancelled.

“So we have scheduled in meetings of both of these committees because they are both critical to this process.”

Will the teacher strike over pay be halted?

Ms Bradley said that the Scottish government was notified on Friday of the schedule that the EIS was working towards. She added that the government had given the union “some assurances the Scottish government and [local authorities’ body] Cosla were working hard to try and put together an improved offer”.

On Friday education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville addressed Scottish secondary school leaders at their first annual conference since 2019. She told the School Leaders Scotland gathering in St Andrews that “even at this late stage” she hoped it would be possible to “find an acceptable resolution...that would make strike action unnecessary”.

However, it seems likely that the government and Cosla will take the negotiations to the brink in a bid to put pressure on the EIS to accept any new deal they bring to the table.

Whether any new offer is one that the EIS feels able to accept remains to be seen but given that the best offer to date is 5% and the union is seeking 10%, there is a considerable gap to be bridged.

When deputy first minister John Swinney was education secretary, strike action over pay was averted in 2019 by a multi‐year deal, amounting to a total increase of 13.51% over three years.

Tes Scotland understands, however, that a multi‐year deal is less likely this year, given the budgetary uncertainty the government is facing.

Meanwhile, the national executive committee of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association has authorised two days of targeted strike action over teacher pay, on Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 December.

A ballot by the NASUWT Scotland union closed today, although the result has not yet been announced.

By Emma Seith, tes.com

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