Strikes loom as Scottish teachers reject teacher pay deal

57 per cent of teachers in Scotland’s largest union have voted to reject the latest pay offer

Emma Seith

Strikes loom as Scottish teachers reject pay deal

It was described by Scotland’s first minister as the most generous public sector pay deal in the UK but "a clear majority" of teachers in the country’s largest union have voted to reject the latest pay offer.

In a ballot, 57 per cent of EIS members voted to reject the offer of a 9 per cent rise as of April and a further 3 per cent rise next year. The turnout was 81 per cent.

The result will be a huge blow to the Scottish government which has made education its top priority but now faces the prospect of the first national teacher-led strike since the 1980s.

The deal: At least a 9 per cent rise in teachers’ April pay packets

The secondary teachers' ballot: ‘Desperate’ secondary teachers accept pay deal

The primary school leaders' ballot: Primary heads vote to accept pay deal

Scotland’s teaching unions were demanding a 10 per cent rise over one year, something that first minister Nicola Sturgeon said was unaffordable. If an improved offer is not forthcoming, the EIS would be initiating the process towards strike action, said general secretary Larry Flanagan.

However, members of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association (SSTA) did not vote the same way.

The SSTA consultative ballot closed at noon today, with 64 per cent of members voting to accept the latest teacher pay offer, based on a turnout of 76 per cent. Around a third of voters said they would be prepared to strike to seek an improved offer.

Primary headteachers also recently revealed the results of their indicative ballot. Members of the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland voted overwhelmingly to accept the new teacher pay deal, with the organisation calling for the rest of the profession to follow suit.

The AHDS figures showed that 90 per cent of its members voted to accept the offer, based on a 75 per cent turnout (around 1,560 teachers).

The NASUWT Scotland union said that officers would be meeting tomorrow to discuss feedback from members and the position it would take in the SNCT (Scottish (Negotiating Committee for Teachers) teachers’ panel meeting scheduled for Monday.

In the EIS ballot – which followed the EIS council narrowly voting to reject the offer – members were provided with details of the offer, along with arguments both for and against acceptance of the offer. They were then asked to express their preference for either accepting the offer, or rejecting the offer and moving to a ballot for industrial action.

Mr Flanagan said although the ballot was not a strike ballot “both the turnout and the number indicating a willingness to move to industrial action would have exceeded the strict thresholds set by the UK government in its restrictive Trade Union Act”.

Mr Flanagan added: “Our Value Education, Value Teachers' pay campaign has been led by EIS members since its inception. Our members have now rejected the latest pay offer and, tomorrow, our member-led executive committee will meet to agree the next steps in our campaign for a pay settlement acceptable to Scotland’s teaching professionals.

"The EIS remains open to further negotiations within the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers but failing an improved offer, we will be initiating the process towards strike action.”

Education secretary and deputy first minister John Swinney said: "The offer put to teachers is the best pay deal in the UK for any public sector worker.

"A large number of teachers voted to accept the offer which clearly demonstrates the advantages they saw in the deal.

"This strong offer remains on the table. Industrial action in any of our schools would not be in the interest of teachers, young people or parents."

Gail Macgregor, resources spokeswoman for local authorities body Cosla, said:  “We absolutely value the education of our young people and throughout these negotiations have reiterated the value we place on our teachers and the work that they do.

“That is why a very fair offer, at the absolute limits of what we could afford, was presented to our teachers and I am disappointed with today’s rejection.

“Industrial action in our schools is in nobody’s interests and it is for this reason we will continue to engage as positively as we can with government and the trade unions.”

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for TES Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

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