Scottish teachers have unanimously rejected a revised pay offer, paving the way for strike action to take place next week.
Thousands of educators will walk out of classrooms for the second time in the space of a few weeks after turning down the latest terms tabled by the Scottish Government and local authority body COSLA.
It means hundreds of schools could be at risk of closure again in the run up to Christmas, with a further 16 days of action announced early in the new year.
In a statement, the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT), the negotiating forum for teachers’ pay, branded the proposed wage rise “wholly unacceptable”.
Des Morris, chair of the organisation’s teachers’ panel said the offer, which included up to a 6.85% wage rise, represented “no real improvement” for staff and actually left some worse off than before.
The starting salary for a fully qualified teacher would also have reached £35,650, with those at the top end of the scale receiving a 5% increase.
Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville described the offer as “fair,” only for it to be immediately rejected by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS).
Mr Morris said: “All of Scotland’s teaching unions – representing teachers in all sectors and in all grades of post – are united in rejection of this wholly unacceptable and divisive offer from COSLA and the Scottish Government.
“In rejecting this proposal, we have highlighted the lack of improvement on the previous offer, which was itself rejected unanimously some three months ago. In addition to offering no tangible improvement, this proposal is also worse for many experienced teachers in promoted posts compared to the previous offer.
He added: “If the Scottish Government and COSLA are truly serious about reaching a pay settlement with Scotland’s teachers – and halting industrial action in our schools – then they must come back with a much more credible, fair, undifferentiated and substantially improved pay offer for all of Scotland’s teaching professionals.
“The offer that we have rejected unanimously today is neither credible nor fair, nor does it make any tangible improvement to the previously rejected offer. The united message from Scotland’s teaching unions and Scotland’s teachers is clear – the Scottish Government and COSLA need to stop the spin and get back to the negotiating table with a fair, credible and substantially improved, undifferentiated pay offer.”
The 16 days of industrial action will take place between January 16 and February 6 across the country, with different local authority areas taking different days of strike.
The plans would see teachers in two local authorities on strike on each of these sixteen days.
The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.