Exclusive: the pay deal unions want for teachers

Industrial action ‘remains a possibility’ if above-inflation rise not met next year

Emma Seith

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Scotland’s teaching unions are demanding a staggered 2 per cent pay rise to conclude negotiations over salaries that have taken over six months.

However, the unions are warning that next year they will lobby for an above-inflation pay rise and that industrial action “remains a possibility in pursuit of a fair pay settlement”.

Teachers’ representatives are demanding a 1 per cent rise backdated to April and a further 1 per cent rise from January 1. Councils are likely to give the proposal the green light, providing the Scottish government agrees to fund the additional 1 per cent – a move that will cost £24 million for one year.

The unions are also looking for a commitment from the government and councils to review the career structure in schools, so classroom teachers do not have to move into management in order to advance.

Seamus Searson, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA), said the unions did not want new management roles, but a new ethos that recognised “teachers in the classroom doing their day-to-day jobs are the most important people in school”.

Last week Stephen McCabe – children and young people spokesman for council umbrella body, Cosla – said that he expected a deal to be reached over teachers’ pay by the end of this month and that the agreement would include a commitment to a McCrone-style review of teachers’ terms and conditions.

The McCrone review, implemented in 2001, led to a 23 per cent pay rise for teachers over three years and the introduction of the chartered teacher role – later scrapped – which incentivised teachers to stay in the classroom.

Teachers on strike

Cosla will meet to discuss the pay proposal from the teaching unions a week today. However, the meeting will take place the day after the NASUWT Scotland teaching union is set to begin a rolling programme of strike action because of “the significant financial detriment teachers have suffered” – a move that Mr Searson claims could delay a deal.

However, Mike Corbett – a member of the NASUWT Scotland executive and an English teacher at Bearsden Academy, one of the East Dunbartonshire schools due to strike – said: “Given that we have had no official contact with the employers’ side for months, we are not formally aware of any forthcoming pay deal and seriously doubt that it will be over the current rate of inflation: if it is then we would need to consider our position at that stage.”

The EIS teaching union has said that its focus for “a major campaign” about pay will be next year when the Scottish government is set to lift the public sector pay cap of 1 per cent.

According to Mr Searson of the SSTA, the unions would be seeking an above-inflation pay rise, with a view to securing wages “at least comparable” to college lecturers’. Under the new deal for FE staff – concluded in May after strike action – lecturers at the top of the scale will receive £40,000, compared to the £35,763 for unpromoted teachers.

The new career structure for teachers would, meanwhile, be pursued separately, added Mr Searson.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said that teachers’ pay was a matter for the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers. She added: “Negotiations are ongoing and we will play our part in those discussions.”

This is an edited version of an article in the 17 November edition of Tes Scotland. Subscribers can read the full story here. To subscribe, click here. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click hereTes Scotland magazine is available at all good newsagents.

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