Edinburgh school strikes: Teachers 'not backing down' ahead of more planned strike action next week

School strikes will take place across Edinburgh next week
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

The Edinburgh local association secretary for the EIS has said her members are not backing down in their attempts to secure a better deal on pay and conditions ahead of more strikes next week, with future walk-outs planned for later in the month.

Edinburgh school teachers are scheduled to take part in a second round of industrial action as part of their long-running pay and conditions dispute with COSLA and the Scottish Government. With primary school teachers walking out on Tuesday (January 10) and secondary school teachers walking out on Wednesday (January 11). Protests are planned at COSLA’s offices at Haymarket on Tuesday and at the First Minister’s official residence of Bute House the following day.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Teachers turned down a deal which would offer most staff in classrooms a five per cent pay rise, although the lowest-earning teachers would receive a 6.85 per cent increase. The Scottish Government, however, has insisted that a 10 per cent increase for all teachers is not affordable within its fixed budget. Teachers first went on strike in November, with a large protest taking place at the Scottish Parliament.

Striking teachers protested outside Holyrood in November.Striking teachers protested outside Holyrood in November.
Striking teachers protested outside Holyrood in November.

‘Our members can’t afford to live just now’

EIS Edinburgh secretary Alison Murphy told the Evening News she hopes the strike action next week will see parents and carers put more pressure on the Scottish Government and COSLA to offer a new deal.

She said: “There is no sign of a deal yet. Unfortunately the Scottish Government and COSLA have not come back with anything at all. Just the same re-hashed offers with the numbers changed around, that would have left our members significantly worse off.

"I hope we don’t have to have the strikes, we don’t want to close schools, teachers want to be in classes teaching their pupils. We hope that parents and carers put pressure on the Scottish Government and COSLA to sort this out.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Alison said strikes will continue if no deal is reached, with teachers struggling every day in schools across the country, and pupils suffering as a result.

She said: "Edinburgh schools will be out again on January 25, with other schools across the country also walking out in a continued wave of strike action. This is going to continue as our members can’t afford to live just now. We are really struggling with the retention of staff, who are leaving in droves. The stresses and the pressures are too much.

"Pay is only one factor, as teachers are worried about bills and everything else. It’s having a real impact on children because they are not getting the education they need as teachers can’t focus because of all the worries.”

Alison also accused the Scottish Government and COSLA of trying to pit teachers against other public sector workers. She said: "The Scottish Government and COSLA need to realise we are serious about this. Our members can’t afford to take the offer on the table at the moment. So this action will continue.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"They spent a lot of time during the pandemic talking about how essential we were. We are not saying we deserve a better pay offer than other sectors, everybody deserves a fair and decent pay rise. Trying to divide and conquer by comparing us with other sector workers is a foolish tactic. We won't fall for it.”

‘Strikes in our schools are in no one’s interest’

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville, who is scheduled to meet with teaching unions on Friday (January 6), said: “We are committed to a fair, sustainable settlement for Scotland’s teachers and continue to engage constructively with teaching unions and COSLA. We would urge unions to postpone their plans for industrial action while talks are ongoing.

“The most recent pay offer – the fourth which has been put to unions - would have meant a 21.8 per cent cumulative increase in teacher pay since 2018, but was rejected. Strikes in our schools are in no one’s interest – least of all for pupils, parents and carers who have already faced significant disruption over the past three years.”