Scottish teachers to vote on strike action

Larry Flanagan said teachers were feeling fed up. Picture: TSPL
Larry Flanagan said teachers were feeling fed up. Picture: TSPL
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Scotland’s biggest teaching union could back a ballot on industrial action over pay when it meets for its AGM this week.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) will debate several motions related to pay and conditions, including one backing strikes from the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, if next year’s settlement does not reach an agreement.

The union’s general secretary, Larry Flanagan, said the mood of teachers was hardening over pay as he called for the Scottish Government and council body Cosla to address it urgently. The EIS said staff had endured a decade of “real-terms erosion” as part of public sector pay restraint.

The national negotiating committee for teachers called for an above-inflation pay increase that would see the average salary rise by as much as 20 per cent in its 2017 pay claim.

Unions say that salaries have decreased in real terms since the 2001 McCrone Agreement.

EIS members will debate a motion at the conference starting on Thursday calling for “a campaign to restore salaries to the values of the McCrone settlement, based on inflation figures, and to negotiate on this basis for next year’s pay settlement”.

The West Dunbartonshire local association said it was growing frustrated by a lack of agreement.

It added: “Failure to reach agreement would result in a ballot of members to begin a campaign of industrial action including strike action from the start of the academic year in 2018-19.”

Speaking before the event in Perth, Mr Flanagan said problems over pay was leading problems recruiting new teachers for Scottish schools.

He said: “In light of recent election debates about ending the long-running cap on public sector pay, the issue of the need for a fair pay settlement for teachers will also be a strong recurring theme at this AGM.

“Disgracefully, Scottish teachers are still waiting for local authority employers Cosla to put together a negotiating team for a pay settlement that was due to be paid last April.

“That is unacceptable.

“Following a long and painful decade of real-terms pay erosion for teachers, which has led to a growing recruitment challenge, enhancing teachers’ pay is an issue that Scotland’s local authorities and the Scottish Government must commit to addressing as a matter of urgency.

“Significantly, motions to AGM have set out a clear timetable for moving towards industrial action if pay talks stagnate.

“With inflation rising again, the mood of teachers is certainly hardening on the issue of pay,” he added.

A Scottish Government spokesman said they would “play a part” in the negotiation process.

He added: “Teachers’ pay and conditions of service are matters for the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT).

“The SNCT negotiations are currently ongoing.

“The Scottish Government will play our part in that process.”