Schools close in two council areas as teacher strikes continue

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) began a rolling 16-day programme of strikes from January 16.

Teachers in two council areas will walk out on Monday to conclude the final day of rolling strike action by Scotland’s largest teaching union.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) began a rolling 16-day programme of strikes from January 16.

Teachers in Inverclyde and Shetland will walk out in the fourth week of strike action in a dispute over pay.

Unions have accused the Scottish Government and councils of having “little to no interest” in finding the funding required to resolve the matter.

A pay offer which would see most teachers receive a sub-inflationary 5% wage rise, with the lowest earners getting an increase of almost 7% has already been rejected by unions.

They are arguing for a 10% uplift, which the Scottish Government said was unaffordable.

The EIS has already planned further strike action in all schools and sectors on February 28 and March 1, followed by a rolling programme of strikes for 20 days between March 13 and April 21.

Des Morris, the salaries convener for the EIS teaching union, said there had been little movement from Government and councils since the 5% pay offer was made.

He said it was “becoming increasingly difficult” to reconcile public statements from ministers with what is happening in negotiations.

“Over the course of January we’ve heard a number of statements such as ‘no stone being left unturned’ to find a resolution, offering to ‘look at all options’, statements that ‘there have to be compromises on both sides’, that Scottish Government is not ‘digging in its heels’,” he told the same programme.

“But these statements have all culminated in our January 20 pay meeting – the last pay meeting that was held – when basically the message was: ‘Teachers, see that 5% offer we offered you six months ago? Take it or leave it’.

“If that’s not digging your heels in, then I really don’t know what is.”

Mr Morris added that there had been a “complete lack of urgency” from the Scottish Government and council umbrella body COSLA.

Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville previously said: “The union demands for a 10% increase for all teachers – even the highest paid – is not affordable within the Scottish Government’s fixed budget and a more pragmatic approach is needed before we can reach a compromise.

“The Scottish Government values the hard work that our teaching workforce put in for our learners and we remain absolutely committed to ensuring they receive a fair pay deal.

“We remain in talks with unions and hope that these will continue to progress towards a compromise to ensure a sustainable deal for all involved.”

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