Scotland's largest teaching union recommends ballot over strikes

Scotland's largest teaching union will meet tomorrow to rule on a recommendation to ballot teachers for strike action over pay.

Friday, 11th January 2019, 2:51 pm
Updated Friday, 11th January 2019, 2:58 pm
EIS general secretart Larry Flanagan. Picture: EIS/ Alan Richardson

A special meeting of the EIS teaching union’s council will take place in Edinburgh.

Members have been told the union will decide on the next phase of a campaign for a 10 per cent pay rise.

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The union’s executive has agreed to recommend a move towards balloting its members on industrial action over pay.

The decision was a unanimous one and is a step closer to the possibility of widespread teachers strikes across the country.

Teaching unions rejected the latest revised offer from Cosla and the Scottish Government earlier this week.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said, “The EIS executive has agreed the timeline for the opening of a strike ballot over pay.

“Our national council will now meet tomorrow to review this timeline and to consider granting authorisation for a statutory strike ballot on pay.”

He added, “Our members have shown a great deal of patience over the past year, but this patience is now exhausted.

“While we would still welcome any improved pay offer from employers, none has yet been forthcoming. Therefore our council will now decide whether to initiate a statutory strike ballot when it meets tomorrow.”

Education secretary John Swinney has said an updated offer from the Government and Cosla was “a better deal than for any group of public sector workers in the UK”, but it was rejected by the teachers’ side of the negotiations.

Teaching unions claim teachers’ pay has fallen 20 per cent in real terms in the past decade.

A significant increase is needed to show teachers they are valued and to help boost staff recruitment and retention.

In an update to members, the EIS stated: “In an attempt to agree a settlement, the teachers’ side has proposed options which would improve the offer for all teachers, but it remains to be seen if these will be taken up.

“We confirmed our willingness to meet again, as and when required.

“Members have been extremely patient over a pay claim, which was due last April. Clearly that patience has its limit.

“A special EIS council meeting has been arranged for this Saturday 12 January to decide on the next phase of the campaign, which may well be a move to a statutory ballot for industrial action, if there is no further movement from Scottish Government and Cosla.”

Mr Swinney said the pay offer “would see teachers receiving a minimum 8 per cent increase between January 2018 and April 2019”.

An earlier offer, which Mr Swinney said at the time was the “best available” and would give most teachers a rise of between 5 per cent and 11 per cent, was rejected by the teachers’ side of negotiations in September.

The following month, more than 20,000 people marched in Glasgow in support of the teachers’ pay demand.