Scotland’s largest teaching union has hit out at the Scottish government and councils for a “misleading”, “duplicitous” and “outrageous” letter to teachers trying to sell them the pay deal.
Scottish teaching unions – which are currently balloting their members over the deal – had already attacked the government and local authorities’ body Cosla over their plans to write to teachers, accusing them of seeking to interfere in a legitimate trade union ballot.
However, they say that now the letter has arrived it is “even worse than anticipated” because it is “profoundly misleading” and presents an inaccurate picture of the size of proposed pay increases for many teachers on the main grade scale.
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said the basic figures are accurate but that a table indicating salary rises on the main-grade scale “creates a false impression of the proposed new salaries for teachers”.
The deal that is on the table is for a 3 per cent rise for all staff, with further rises dependent on a teacher's stage of career.
For instance, under the new deal the starting salary of a teacher would rise by around 9 per cent, hitting just short of £30,000. However, for other teachers the rise will be bigger or smaller depending how long they have been in the job.
Unions' teacher pay claim 'simply unaffordable'
Headteachers, meanwhile have hit out at the deal because they say it “fails to take account of those in leadership posts”.
Mr Flanagan said: “The letter completely fails to explain to teachers on points 1-5 of the current main grade scale that if the proposal was agreed, most of them would migrate to a lower point on the new scale – instead showing figures as a straight read across. The text of the letter also singularly fails to mention this feature – completely misleading teachers. For example, a teacher currently on Point 3 would move to the new Point 2 but this is not how the graphic presents it.”
“The letter also cites incremental progression as part of the pay uplift, but those teachers due increments as a contractual entitlementhave been receiving such since August 1st. It is completely mendacious to imply that wages you are already earning should be included as part of a new pay offer.”
Dear, @JohnSwinney , please direct all correspondence on this matter to my union. Teachers are collectively represented on such issues and we don’t appreciate this attack on our democratic procedures, particularly when it contains misrepresentation. @EISUnion @COSLA @scotgov pic.twitter.com/BFaZHtkMyH— Gordon MacKay (@mackay_gordon) November 1, 2018
Earlier this week a ballot opened on the pay deal, with the unions urging teachers “to overwhelmingly reject the divisive offer”. They are seeking a 10 per cent pay rise for the whole profession.
However, in the letter – signed by education secretary John Swinney and Cosla resources spokeswoman Gail Macgregor – the government and Cosla argue the pay offer that is on the table is “a fair offer” that will cost a total of £105 million and is in line with what is being offered to other public sector workers.
They add: “The teacher unions’ claim for 10 per cent in a single year cannot be achieved. It is simply unaffordable, and the unions have been told this since their claim was submitted at the start of the year.”
A Scottish government spokesman said it had worked with Cosla "to put in place the best pay deal in the UK for 2018-19 and our joint letter accurately explains the component parts so that teachers have a full understanding of the proposals on the table".
He added: "The letter in no way undermines the democratic role of the teaching unions in this process nor change our joint commitment to continue discussions with teaching unions in good faith."