Stability is watchword for four-year pay deal

14th May 2004 at 01:00
Teachers have struck another pace-setting pay deal, representing an increase of 10.43 per cent over four years - as predicted in The TES Scotland on April 9 ("Four-year pay deal to keep the peace"). But some local authorities are concerned it may fuel demands from other council staff.

The agreement, hammered out in the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers on Monday, includes a key provision that talks will be reopened in the final two years if inflation goes beyond 2.25 per cent in either of the preceding two years. Rises of 2 per cent and 2.25 per cent have been agreed for 2006 and 2007.

The first two years of the deal will see increases of 2.9 per cent a year, the first backdated to last month and the second rise payable from April next year.

The settlement means the starting salary for a teacher after probation would rise from pound;21,588 to pound;23,841 in 2007, and from pound;28,707 to pound;31,707 for unpromoted teachers at the top of the scale.

Maximum pay for headteachers, whose leaders have been constant critics of the raw deal they claim to receive from the SNCT, will go up from pound;69,300 to pound;76,527 over the four years.

The unions and the Scottish Executive were keen to strike a four-year deal, the former because a change in the way the Treasury calculates inflation could have disadvantaged them in two years' time and the latter because it would help its campaign to recruit 3,000 extra teachers by 2007.

Education authorities are said to have needed more convincing about the merits of a four-year agreement. They were worried about whether Executive funding would be available in the later years, as well as the reaction from unions representing local government staff, principally Unison.

Informal assurances on behalf of Andy Kerr, Finance Minister, that councils would be funded to meet the claims are understood to have been crucial. But despite the virtue of bringing "stability", the key refrain from all three parties, not everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.

Unison contrasted the local authorities' treatment of teachers with the way they are handling the nursery nurse dispute. And, in an unprecedented rebuke, two senior Glasgow councillors distanced themselves from the settlement.

Charlie Gordon, leader of the city council, and Steven Purcell, its education convener, questioned whether the deal would be fully funded by the Executive. They also expressed concern at the effects on other council staff.

But Ewan Aitken, local authority co-chair of the SNCT, said the new tripartite arrangements between unions, authorities and the Executive had delivered "continuing stability for the next four years".

Mr Aitken added: "It also means the 2006 review of the McCrone agreement can take place on the basis of what has been happening and what needs to change, not on the basis of salaries. So the review will be about education, not money."

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