Teacher pay deal dispute set to continue next year

8th December 2017 at 00:00
But an initial 2% salary increase is expected to be agreed just before Christmas

After more than half a year of wrangling, teachers, councils and the government were close to reaching a deal on pay (“Unions state terms for teacher pay increase”, 17 November). However, a decision by local authorities has been delayed until later this month by council umbrella body Cosla, because it wants clarity over the extent to which the government will share the cost.

Here we reveal what’s on the table and why councils are dragging their feet…

What pay rise are the unions looking for?

A staggered 2 per cent pay rise. Teachers’ representatives are demanding a 1 per cent rise backdated to April and a further 1 per cent rise from January 1. Councils are set to accept the deal – if the Scottish government fully funds the second 1 per cent rise.

Will the Scottish government fund it?

Tes Scotland understands that the government has committed to funding the rise from January to April, but confusion remains over whether it will cover the full year cost of the deal in 2018-19, which is £24 million.

Uncertainty led Cosla leaders to defer a decision on teacher pay until they meet on Thursday of next week – the same day as the Scottish government sets its draft budget for 2018-19. A source told Tes Scotland: “This was a unanimous decision on a motion moved by the SNP group. [Education secretary] John Swinney will not be happy.”

Is there anything else included in the deal?

The teaching unions also want a commitment to review the career structure in schools, so that classroom teachers do not have to move into management in order to advance.

Restoring supply teacher pay is also on the table. Mr Swinney hinted at this in the Scottish Parliament, saying that the government was “in negotiation with the unions on the payment of supply staff, with the aim of increasing supply cover in our schools”.

What do the unions have to say?

Confidence remains high that a deal can be struck before Christmas – the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) meets on 18 December – but it may well be too late to get the extra money into January pay packets.

And the government?

Not very much. A spokeswoman would only say that it is a matter for the SNCT, which comprises national and local government and unions, and that “negotiations are ongoing and we will play our part in those discussions”.

Once this deal is struck, is the pressure off?

Not at all. The process is set to start again next year – and the unions have said they will be seeking an above-inflation pay rise. The unions also stressed that they will be willing to strike to get it. This could mark the first major national teaching strikes since the 1980s.

Wasn’t a strike due to take place last month?

The NASUWT Scotland teaching union said that it would carry out one-day strikes in three Glasgow secondary schools on 23 November over pay, pensions and workload – and in three East Dunbartonshire secondaries on 30 November.

The Glasgow action was stopped by the union, which accused the council of setting “an unreasonable ultimatum in order to disrupt legitimate legal action”.

The teaching union then decided to withdraw its planned strike action in East Dunbartonshire, after the council offered “to talk about a way forward”.

The union’s general secretary, Chris Keates, claimed that “East Dunbartonshire Council’s approach to the NASUWT’s strike action contrasts favourably with the hostile and combative reaction of Glasgow City Council.”

@Emma_Seith

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