Children across Scotland are set to miss more days of school as a teaching union has announced 22 additional days of strikes in the ongoing pay dispute.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) said the new strike days are in addition to the previously announced 16-day programme of rolling strike action, set to begin in schools across the country next week.
The EIS Executive Committee met on Friday and agreed action that will include two days of strikes 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.
Each local authority area will be impacted by three consecutive days of strikes, with one day affecting all schools bookended on either side by one-day strikes in primary and secondary schools.
EIS members have previously taken three days of strikes, one in November and two in January, in the continuing campaign for a fair pay settlement for the year 2022.
Primary and secondary schools were closed on Tuesday January 10 and Wednesday January 11 after last-ditch talks with the Scottish Government failed.
Unions have demanded a 10% pay increase but the Scottish Government has offered 5%, including rises of up to 6.85% for the lowest-paid staff.
Speaking after the meeting of EIS Executive Committee, general secretary Andrea Bradley said: “The programme of additional strike action, agreed today, is a direct response to the inaction of the Scottish Government and Cosla (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) on teacher pay.
“After a year of dither, delay and disingenuity from the Scottish Government and Cosla, Scotland’s teachers have simply had enough.”
Ms Bradley added: “The recent days of strike action by Scotland’s teachers have succeeded in bringing Cosla and the Scottish Government back to the negotiating table but they have yet to put a single extra penny onto that table.
“Scotland’s teachers rejected a sub-inflationary 5% offer six months ago, and little or no progress has been made in negotiations since.
“The prospect of 22 additional days of strike action, on top of the 16 days of rolling action set to begin next week, should signal clearly to the Scottish Government and Cosla that they must now act with urgency.
“Our members are resolute and determined to secure a fair pay settlement, which both properly reflects their value and also takes account of the soaring cost of living.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously expressed her regret at the strike action, adding: “We’re trying to be as fair as possible while maximising pay increases.”
Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Strikes in our schools are in no one’s interest – including for pupils, parents and carers who have already had to deal with significant disruption over the past three years.
“It is disappointing that the EIS has proceeded to escalate industrial action – we are continuing to urge teaching unions to reconsider their plans while talks are ongoing.
“Recent discussions have been constructive. There has been a shared understanding that talks have been focused on discussing potential areas for compromise – not on tabling a new offer at this stage.
“To date we have made four offers, all of which have been rejected, but we remain absolutely committed to reaching an agreement on a pay deal that is fair and sustainable for all concerned.”