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Scottish teachers could move closer to strike action

Meeting tomorrow will decide how to progress campaign for 10 per cent pay rise for all teachers

Scottish teachers could move closer to strike action

Meeting tomorrow will decide how to progress campaign for 10 per cent pay rise for all teachers

A union is holding a special meeting which looks likely to give the go-ahead for a ballot on strike action, following a long-running pay dispute.

A special meeting of the council of the EIS, Scotland's biggest teaching union, will take place in Edinburgh tomorrow.

Members have been told it will decide on the next phase of a campaign for a 10 per cent pay rise. This afternoon, the union released a statement saying that its executive would recommend a statutory strike ballot on pay.

An update to members said this "may well be a move to a statutory ballot for industrial action", unless the Scottish government and council umbrella body Cosla provide further concessions in pay negotiations.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan, in a statement this afternoon, said that the union's executive had "agreed the timeline for the opening of a strike ballot over pay", and that its national council would "now meet tomorrow to review this timeline, and to consider granting authorisation for a statutory strike ballot on pay".

He added: “Our members have shown a great deal of patience over the past year, but this patience is now exhausted. While we would still welcome any improved pay offer from employers, none has yet been forthcoming."

Education secretary and deputy first minister John Swinney has said that an updated offer from the government and Cosla is "a better deal than for any group of public sector workers in the UK", but it was rejected by the teachers' side of the negotiations earlier this week.

Teaching unions say teachers' pay has fallen 20 per cent in real terms in the past decade and a significant increase is needed to show teachers they are valued and to help boost staff recruitment and retention.

In its update to members, the EIS stated: "In an attempt to agree a settlement, the teachers' side has proposed options which would improve the offer for all teachers, but it remains to be seen if these will be taken up.

"We confirmed our willingness to meet again, as and when required.

"Members have been extremely patient over a pay claim which was due last April. Clearly, that patience has its limit.

"A special EIS council meeting has been arranged for this Saturday, January 12, to decide on the next phase of the campaign, which may well be a move to a statutory ballot for industrial action, if there is no further movement from Scottish government and Cosla."

Mr Swinney has said the pay offer "would see teachers receiving a minimum 8 per cent increase between January 2018 and April 2019".

An earlier offer, which Mr Swinney said at the time was the "best available" and would ultimately give most teachers a rise of between 5 per cent and 11 per cent, was rejected by the teachers' side of negotiations in September.

In October, an estimated 30,000 people marched in Glasgow in support of the teachers' pay demand.

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