The national council of Scotland’s largest teaching union has today agreed in principle to recommend that a new pay offer to the country’s teachers be accepted.
This afternoon’s development means that the first national teacher-led strike action in Scotland since the 1980s – pencilled in for Wednesday 24 April – looks less likely to take place. A statutory ballot on strike action, which was due to open on Monday, has been suspended.
At a meeting on Thursday afternoon, a revised pay offer was proposed by the Scottish government. A letter confirming the detail of this offer was received by the EIS this morning, ahead of today’s meeting of the EIS council. Following discussion at today’s meeting, the EIS said its council had “overwhelmingly” agreed to recommend acceptance of the new proposed offer to Scotland’s teachers. At a meeting in January, the council had narrowly voted to recommend rejection of the previous offer.
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As a result of this recommendation, a planned statutory ballot for strike action has now been suspended. The EIS will instead open a consultative ballot of its members on the new offer, with a recommendation to accept.
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The EIS pay campaign had sought a 10 per cent pay rise for all teachers in 2018.
Today, EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The EIS launched the Value Education, Value Teachers campaign in January last year, with the aim of securing a fair pay settlement for Scotland’s teachers.
“Throughout the campaign, it became increasingly clear that – in addition to pay – teachers also have serious concerns about issues such as the recruitment and retention of teachers, professional development, workload and the level of support for pupils with additional support needs. These issues then became a factor in the ongoing discussions via the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers.”
Mr Flanagan added: “The new proposed offer outlined in today’s letter from the Scottish government represents a positive attempt to address these issues. It offers a three-year pay settlement of 3 per cent from April 2018, 7 per cent from April 2019 and 3 per cent from April 2020, for a compounded total increase of 13.51 per cent over three years.
“It also includes additional commitments aimed at tackling workload, supporting teacher professional development and enhancing the teacher leadership programme. Taking all of these elements together, it represents a package that the EIS is now recommending to Scotland’s teachers.”
Mr Flanagan said that the offer “represents a significant success for Scotland’s teachers, and for Scottish education”.
He added: “It has been secured through strong campaigning under the Value Education, Value Teachers banner, and delivered through the committed collective stand taken by Scotland’s teachers. By standing together and remaining united, our members have secured a strong deal for Scotland’s teachers which will also deliver stability and security for Scottish education.”
Shortly after the news emerged at 2pm, education secretary and deputy first minister John Swinney tweeted that he was "very pleased" about the breakthrough.
Very pleased we have reached an agreement on pay, workload and empowerment with @EISUnion. This creates an excellent opportunity to strengthen Scottish education and make sure our young people can fulfill their potential.— John Swinney (@JohnSwinney) March 8, 2019
In a more lengthy statement, Mr Swinney said: "I welcome the EIS decision to suspend the ballot on industrial action.
"The Scottish government and [local authorities' body] Cosla made a strong offer to teachers which, by a narrow margin, was rejected.
"Given the importance we place on valuing teachers and improving the attractiveness of the profession, I have looked again at the investment the Scottish government is making."
He added: "This landmark agreement brings together a partnership with local authorities and professional associations to tackle critical issues, in tandem with a settlement on pay.
"It is an agreement that removes the threat of industrial action, will provide the stability we need to make the reform Scotland's education system needs and deliver the best possible outcomes for our young people."
Scottish Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said: "This is a positive development, nobody wants to see strikes in our schools.
"Now it is up to teachers to decide if the offer is acceptable.
"However, it should never have come to this and it should not have taken John Swinney nearly two years to listen to what teachers are saying about pay erosion and workload."
Scottish Greens education spokesman Ross Greer said: "This is great news for Scotland's overworked and underappreciated teachers, after a near 25 per cent pay cut over recent years."