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Pay rise lessens risk of Scottish strikes

THE THREAT of strikes by teachers in Scotland appears to have been lifted with this week's award of a 3.6 per cent pay rise.

The deal, which is marginally higher than the 3.5 per cent settlement for teachers in England and Wales, was accepted by union negotiators late on Monday after months of rising tension.

Ronnie Smith, general secretary of Scotland's largest teachers' union, the Educational Institute of Scotland, said the 3.6 per cent rise offered a chance to get beyond "an immediate pressure point" in continuing disagreement with employers over teachers' pay and conditions.

"We have indicated we will settle at 3.6 per cent and will accept the 3.6 per cent offer," he said. "I think that most members will recognise that in the circumstances, it's not a bad deal."

The EIS estimates that a rise will take a typical top-of-scale teacher with 10 years' experience from a salary of pound;21,954 to pound;22,744. A top-of-scale teacher with seven years' experience in England would earn pound;23,193.

A typical primary headteacher will see his or her salary rise from pound;31,092 to pound;32,211 while a typical secondary headteacher's salary would rise from pound;41,800 to pound;43,350.

"There will be concerns, however, that it really does not address the continuing relative decline and does nothing to catch up with the long established shortfalls," Mr Smith said.

The EIS decided on Tuesday to call off a ballot of its members for a mass walk-out on December 2.

Negotiators for the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association have also accepted the offer. The association had planned to take part in the walk-out and is expected to decide whether to stop its strike ballot at the weekend.

Scottish teachers had demanded an 8 per cent rise. The employers had offered 3.3 per cent (14.7 per cent over three years).

The 14.7 per cent deal had been tied to substantial changes of pay and conditions, including extending heads' right to direct teachers' use of their working time, changes in the promotion structure within schools, and a relaxation of class-size limits.

The changes were rejected by 98 per cent of the EIS's membership last month. The institute's decision to withdraw its strike threat is thought to have come after Government assurances that the proposals would not be revived in the forthcoming McCrone inquiry. This investigation has been set up to review Scottish teachers' pay, conditions and negotiating rights.

Ministers are also believed to have promised that teachers' workloads would be part of the inquiry's remit.

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