Pressure on the Scottish government to come up with a new pay deal for teachers continued to mount today, as a second Scottish teaching union announced its plans to ballot its members over strike action.
The NASUWT – which claims it is now Scotland’s second largest teaching union, with over 7,500 members – says it is writing to councils this week giving notice of its intention to ballot members over strike action and action short of strike action.
The ballot will open on March 18, one week after Scotland’s largest teaching union, the EIS, intends to open its strike action ballot.
Read and watch: When thousands took to the streets of Glasgow over teacher pay
What campaigners want: Big pay rise to ‘restore’ wages to levels comparable with other countries
What’s on offer: Scottish government insists teachers would get 'best pay rise of any UK public sector workers'
The three parties that negotiate teacher pay – the trade unions, the Scottish government and local council umbrella body Cosla – had their last scheduled meeting yesterday. However, the meeting ended with no new offer, prompting EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan to warn the government and councils that they should not “spurn the opportunity to avoid industrial action”.
The deal that was rejected by the teachers' side of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) last month was for a 9 per cent rise as of April – a series of three 3 per cent increases, the first backdated to April 2018 – and a further 3 per cent rise from April 2020.
However, NASUWT Scotland says it is not only pay that has prompted it to act, but also excessive workload and pupil indiscipline. This means its dispute is not just with employers but also with the Scottish government.
NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates has written to education secretary John Swinney today, lodging the formal trade dispute with the government.
The union said a survey last year of 800 teachers found 86 per cent reported that excessive workload was blighting their professional lives. Meanwhile over half of teachers (57 per cent) reported being verbally abused by a pupil in the preceding twelve months, 16 per cent had been threatened with physical assault and 13 per cent had actually been assaulted.
Ms Keates said: “Feedback from our members has demonstrated that they are angry about the year-on-year cuts they have suffered to their pay, but they have also said they are equally angry and, in some cases, even angrier about the failure of government and employers to tackle excessive workload, growing pupil indiscipline and other adverse management practices, including the culture developing in too many workplaces of bullying of staff.
“In the light of this and having failed to reach agreement in the current pay talks, the NASUWT National Action Committee has decided that simply to have a trade dispute and ballot over pay would mean that other issues of deep concern were not being addressed. Our trade dispute with Government and employers will now, therefore, cover all of these issues of concern."
Teachers have been pursuing a one-year 10 per cent "restorative" pay rise in a campaign started by the EIS over a year ago.