Teaching union the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) revealed the results of its statutory ballot on the issue earlier on Thursday, with 96 per cent voting in favour of strike action on a turnout of 71 per cent. The union balloted members after they rejected a “wholly inadequate” 5 per cent pay offer. It said that its members are neither willing nor able to accept a “deep real-terms cut to their pay” amid the cost-of-living crisis.
EIS general secretary Andrea Bradley said: “This ballot result provides the EIS with an extremely strong mandate for strike action over pay. Our members have sent yet another very clear message to their employers in Scottish local authorities and to the Scottish Government that they must do better on teachers’ pay.
“Our members should have received a pay increase in April but, after months of unjustifiable dither and delay from Cosla and the Scottish Government, we are still waiting for an acceptable offer to be made. Quite frankly, our members have had enough of waiting and enough of feeling the financial strain of the cost of living on top of the significant stress of their teaching jobs.”
She added: “A move to strike action is always a last resort, but our members have become increasingly angry over their treatment by their employers and by the Scottish Government. The last pay offer, a sub-inflation 5 per cent, was rejected by Scotland’s teachers almost three months ago. Since then, there has been no new offer made, despite a strong desire on the part of teachers for a fair deal to be struck.”
Ms Bradley said that with the cost of living soaring and prices of food and fuel, housing and heating continuing to climb ever higher, EIS members are “neither willing nor able to accept a deep real-terms cut to their pay”.
Following a special meeting of the EIS executive committee, it was announced the first day of action will take place on Thursday, November 24.
Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “The Scottish Government and Scottish local government value the teaching workforce. We recognise the vital importance of reaching a fair and affordable resolution on pay, both for the workforce during a cost-of-living crisis, and for the pupils and parents who rely on the vital services our teaching workforce deliver. We are absolutely committed to working together to support a fair pay offer for teachers through the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers and to avoiding unnecessary strike action and the disruption that would cause. Strikes in our schools are in no-one’s interest – least of all for pupils, parents and carers who have already faced significant disruption over the past three years.”
Meanwhile, teachers at a secondary school are to take strike action amid claims their employer has failed to protect them from abuse by pupils. Members of the NASUWT teaching union at Bannerman High School in Glasgow will walk out on 12 days in November and December, saying their concerns have not been addressed.
Teachers have cited incidents in which pupils have refused to follow instructions, stolen personal items, made verbal threats, shoved teachers, blocked fire exits, brandished a screwdriver and caused damaged to the building. The union said Glasgow City Council agreed to put measures in place to protect teachers, but this has not happened.
NASUWT has told members at the school to refuse to teach pupils who are known to be abusive and threatening. But it said the council has written to members telling them they will be sent home without pay and face punitive action if they refuse to teach certain pupils. In response, NASUWT has now issued notice to the council of plans for strike action.
NASUWT general secretary Patrick Roach said: “The actions and systematic failures of the council are placing the safety of teachers at serious risk.
“No teacher should have to go to work expecting to be sworn at, verbally abused or threatened with violence from the pupils they teach. Glasgow City Council’s attempts to bully our members are indicative of a climate of fear that the council has allowed to develop at Bannerman school.”
Mike Corbett, NASUWT national official for Scotland, added: “Where any pupil seeks to intimidate staff in classrooms, corridors and elsewhere, disrupt classes or pose a constant threat to the health and safety of teachers, the council should be taking action to protect staff rather than bullying and threatening our members. The NASUWT will not stand by whilst any teacher suffers violence and abuse at work and whilst Glasgow City Council fails to upholds its duty of care to staff and pupils.”
NASUWT members at the school will strike on November 24, 29 and 30 and on December 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, and 21.
A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said: “The position that has been outlined by the NASUWT is an inaccurate reflection of the extensive, ongoing support by the council and senior management at the school and it is deeply upsetting that the school is once again being dragged through the media.
“The safety of our staff is taken very seriously and additional measures have been in place at the school to meet the needs of the teachers and support staff in the ASL base and the refusal to teach by some members can only be seen as victimisation of young people with significant needs.
“The school has a ratio of one teacher to every three pupils in the base as well as pupil support workers with individual support plans for young people.
“We do not recognise the characterisation of the council’s behaviour as bullying nor have we threatened any member of staff.
“Our legal view was made clear to the NASUWT that refusal to teach an individual young person would be considered breach of contract and have consistently engaged with the union and will continue to do so.”