Secondary teachers have announced further strikes in the new year following two days of action earlier this week.
The Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA) has announced that members will walk out on Wednesday, January 11 in a further day of action in pursuit of an increased pay offer.
The union are calling on the Scottish Government and COSLA, the governing body for local authorities, to increase the current pay offer to 10%, branded “unaffordable” by education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville.
The SSTA staged strike action with members across Scotland on Wednesday and Thursday, forcing dozens of schools across Scotland to close.
Union president Catherine Nicol said: “The executive committee would like to thank all of the SSTA members that took strike action this week. You were willing to come out in freezing conditions and this showed the strength of feeling there is against acceptance of the current pay offer.
“Scottish secondary school teachers answered the call and stood together to fight for a fair and reasonable pay deal. SSTA members have sent a clear message to the Scottish Government and COSLA. Pay teachers properly: not just for now but for the future.
“If the Scottish Government values its teachers it must be prepared to act and negotiate sensibly. We must have a pay offer that we can take to our members. If not, the SSTA is prepared to take strike action to obtain a fair deal and further our cause”.
It comes as other teaching unions the Educational Institute of Scotland and NASUWT are also carrying out industrial action, including strikes, in a dispute over pay for members.
Seamus Searson, SSTA general secretary added: “The strikes this week have been an outstanding success with most secondary schools either been closed or severely disrupted by the action of SSTA members. I take my hat off to SSTA members, they have shown their resolve and determination to get a deal done.
“The SSTA strike will join with other teacher unions on January 11 in a united front to send a clear message that the teacher unions are not for turning. Three years ago, the deputy first minister when cabinet secretary for education, promised the teacher unions that teachers pay must be settled on time and without the prolonged procrastination orchestrated by the employers (COSLA).
“This pay increase should have been in teacher wage packets in April this year: but we still await payment. The SSTA calls on the DFM to be true to his word and settle this pay dispute now.
“Further strike action days in furtherance of the dispute are being considered by the executive committee and will be announced in the coming days”
In response to the industrial action, Somerville said: “Strike action is in no-one’s interest, least of all learners, parents and carers. We remain committed to a fair, sustainable settlement for Scotland’s teachers and will continue to engage teaching unions and COSLA constructively.
“It is very disappointing that the teaching unions have rejected the latest offer – the fourth which has been put to unions – which mirrors the deal accepted by other Local Government workers.
“The request for a 10% increase for all teachers – even the highest paid – is not affordable within the Scottish Government’s fixed budget.
“While councils are responsible for managing the impact of industrial action, I expect schools to remain open wherever possible, so that disruption can be minimised. Any closures would follow risk assessments made in individual areas.”
Councillor Katie Hagmann, COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that strikes are going ahead.
“In an effort to prevent strikes happening, we as employers made a revised fourth offer to our trade union colleagues, that did include additional money.
“It was a fair and affordable offer which recognises the cost-of-living crisis as the priority by focusing on higher increases for staff on lower pay points.”
COSLA say the offer amounts to 6.85% for probationers as well as between 5.71% and 5.1% for those in middle areas of the pay scale.
Ms Hagmann continued by stating that the offer is “in line with the offers made to all other parts of the public sector, including the wider local government workforce” and said COSLA “remain open to having open and honest conversations about how we can reach a viable and realistic settlement that protects the best interests of teacher, children and young people and our wider communities.”