'Pay us fairly, or we will strike and vacate our classrooms'

Members of the largest union for teachers in Scotland are set to be be balloted over industrial action.

Scottish teachers set to be balloted for industrial action after EIS recommends rejecting 5% pay offer iStock

Scottish teachers are set to be balloted over industrial action up to and including striking, following a dispute over pay.

The country’s largest union for teachers, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) announced on Thursday its intention to gain authorisation for a consultative ballot from the National Executive.

It comes after the EIS Salaries Committee recommended union members vote to reject the current 5% pay offer, claiming that this would be a 7% real terms pay cut.

The ballot will ask members whether they are prepared to support industrial action, up to and including strike action, in pursuit of an improved pay settlement.

It follows notice of strike action by members of Unison at nurseries and schools on September 6, 7 and 8 in locations including Glasgow, Aberdeenshire and North and South Lanarkshire following a lack of progress in talks with Cosla.

Arrangements are expected to be confirmed by the EIS Executive Committee sometime next week. 

EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley said: “We have now received three different offers from local authority employers, and each one has been wholly unsatisfactory.

“First, we were offered an paltry 2% and this was rejected out-of-hand. Then, several months of pay decline later, Cosla came back with an insulting 3.5% offer, which, with rocketing rates of inflation was miles away from being acceptable.

“Now, teachers’ employers are proposing a 5% offer that is still well below the current RPI inflation rate of 12.3%. In real terms, this is no offer at all. Rather, it is amounts to an over 7% pay cut for Scotland’s teachers and that is something that we will never accept.

“With the cost of living continuing to soar, and with inflation projected to rise even higher to record levels in the year ahead, Cosla and the Scottish Government must come up with a much fairer deal for Scotland’s teachers.” 

Des Morris, EIS Salaries Convener said, “The unanimous response from the Salaries Committee to this latest offer was one of profound disappointment, and deep and growing anger.

“Teachers are angry that their employers seem to think that a real-terms pay cut of more than 7% is an acceptable pay offer to make to Scotland’s hard-working teaching professionals.

“Salaries Committee was also unanimous in its decision to recommend rejection of this offer, and that we should look to move quickly to ballot members to confirm their rejection and to gauge their willingness to take industrial action in pursuit of a fair and credible settlement.

“We are now recommending to EIS Executive that we proceed with a consultative ballot on that basis, to be opened as soon as possible.

“Scotland’s teachers have waited long enough for a decent settlement and must use this ballot to send a very strong and very clear message to Cosla and the Scottish Government: pay us fairly, or we will take strike action and vacate our classrooms.”