More strikes loom as teachers formally reject 'unacceptable and divisive' pay offer

Teachers in Scotland have formally rejected a “wholly unacceptable and divisive” pay offer, paving the way for further strike action in the weeks ahead.

Trade unions said the “differentiated 5 per cent” offer from the Scottish Government and council body Cosla represented “no real improvement” on a previous offer rejected three months ago.

A letter from the teachers’ panel of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT), representing all of Scotland’s teaching unions, said it was actually worse for many.

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The Scottish Government submitted a pay offer to teachers last week which was summarily dismissed by the unions.

Teachers across Scotland took strike action last week

Under that proposal, teachers earning under £40,107 would receive an increase of £1,926 per year – 6.85 per cent for those on the lowest salaries – while those on more would get 5 per cent.

Councillor Katie Hagmann, Cosla’s resources spokeswoman, said a “revised fourth offer “ was made on Tuesday afternoon, which included additional money.

She said: “It was a fair and affordable offer which recognises the cost-of-living crisis as the priority by focusing on higher increases for staff on lower pay points. This means 6.85 per cent for probationers, as well as between 5.71 per cent and 5.1 per cent for those on the lower to middle parts of the pay scale who will also receive their annual increment.

"The offer we have made is in line with the offers made to all other parts of the public sector, including the wider local government workforce. Teachers are a core part of that workforce, and are supported in their roles by other council employees who help keep schools open and clean.

“It was an offer that ensured no additional pressure is placed on teachers themselves, as well as any other parts of our hardworking workforce and the essential services they deliver, and importantly it protects the best interests of children and young people.

“Teachers in Scotland are already paid well above their counterparts in England and Wales, as made clear by UK Government figures, and indeed many of their colleagues in local government.”

Des Morris, chair of the teachers’ panel of the SNCT, said: “All of Scotland’s teaching unions – representing teachers in all sectors and in all grades of post – are united in rejection of this wholly unacceptable and divisive offer from Cosla and the Scottish Government.

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"In rejecting this proposal, we have highlighted the lack of improvement on the previous offer, which was itself rejected unanimously some three months ago. In addition to offering no tangible improvement, this proposal is also worse for many experienced teachers in promoted posts compared to the previous offer.

"This proposal also, quite absurdly given employers’ responsibilities around fair work and SNCT conditions of service, suggests that even more demands of teachers could have been made, adding to their already intolerable workloads, had employers chosen to do so.

"Also a red line is that the proposal offers a differentiated pay increase which is something that teaching unions made clear from the very start would never be acceptable to Scotland’s teachers.”

Mr Morris added: “If the Scottish Government and Cosla are truly serious about reaching a pay settlement with Scotland’s teachers – and halting industrial action in our schools – then they must come back with a much more credible, fair, undifferentiated and substantially improved pay offer for all of Scotland’s teaching professionals.”

The NASUWT union plans to strike on December 7 and 8 – along with the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association – with action short of a strike due on December 9.

The Educational Institute of Scotland, the largest teaching union in the country, announced last week that teachers in every local authority in Scotland will walk out, two councils at a time, for 16 straight days after taking a single day of action last week. This will follow action on January 10 for teachers in primary and special schools, as well as early years, and on January 11 for those working in secondary schools and secondary special schools.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "It is very disappointing that the teaching unions have rejected this fair and progressive offer which mirrors the deal accepted by other local government workers. Strikes are in no-one's interest and this offer – the fourth offer which has gone to unions – would have meant a 21.8 per cent cumulative increase in teacher pay since 2018.

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"It is simply unaffordable to have a 10 per cent increase which unions are asking for within the fixed budget which the Scottish Government is working in."

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