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Pay gap set to widen

No-strings rise of 2.5% will leave new teachers thousands of pounds behind staff south of the border

TEACHERS are likely to be offered a no-strings pay deal of around 2.5 per cent as employers and unions head towards their swansong agreement in the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee. The rise is well below the 3.3 per cent awarded to all English teachers and would compare unfavourably with last year's 3.6 per cent rise.

The SJNC is due to be scrapped by the summer under the education Bill now going through parliament, putting pressure on education authorities and unions to conclude a one-year deal. Talks are due to open next Thursday.

It is highly unlikely the independent committee of inquiry into pay, conditions and structures led by Professor Gavin McCrone will affect pay packets this year since its findings will only be released towards the end of next month.

Following initial reactions to the report, and a Scottish Executive response, further negotiations between management and unions are expected to take several months and could extend into next year. Possible industrial action by unions could add further delays.

In the meantime, teacher unions are claiming a 6.4 per cent rise - in line with average earnings but well over the underlying inflation rate of 2 per cent. The headline rate, which includes mortgages, is 2.6 per cent. Other local government unions, still smarting from the 0.5 per cent extra teachers received last year, have already reected the 2.5 per cent but could settle before the summer.

Most council education budgets have allowed for around 2.5 per cent, anticipating a bumper deal next year. Danny McCafferty, the local authorities' spokesman, warned: "We have made the unions fully aware of the amount of money available to local government but one thing we shall not be going into is a repeat performance of last year, going back and forward to the Scottish Executive looking for top-ups."

Ken Wimbor, Educational Institute of Scotland assistant secretary, said: "We know the authorities have budgeted in the region of 2.5 per cent. This is a stand-alone increase for this year and obviously there is the complication of McCrone. Our claim was based on one index because any catching up we are due we hope the McCrone committee will tackle."

Meanwhile, John Patton, the union's president, called on the McCrone committee last week to recognise the professionalism of teachers and recommend a "professional contract which allows teachers to identify the priorities of schools and for their pupils". Mr Patton, addressing the STUC,said that any post-McCrone settlement should be fully funded by the Scottish Executive, a point echoed by Mr McCafferty.

The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association at its annual conference in Aviemore next weekend will reinforce the calls for full Government funding of future pay deals and condemn the recent history of efficiency savings.

Leader, page 16

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