Created on: 10 Mar 2023
Firstly, thank you to each and every one of you who voted in the consultative ballot on the latest pay offer from COSLA, supported by additional funding from the Scottish Government.
Thank you for taking the time to think about the offer, to read the supporting EIS comms and to talk to your colleagues about it before arriving at your conclusion.
The result of the consultative ballot is as follows:
This result suggests that EIS members have made a clear decision in voting to accept the current pay offer.
While the offer does not meet our aspirations in respect of a restorative pay settlement for Scotland’s teachers, the outcome of the ballot concurs with the view of the Salaries Committee that it is a good deal and the best deal that can realistically be achieved in the current political and financial climate without further prolonged industrial action.
That so many eligible EIS members have participated in this ballot is testament to the strength of EIS members’ trust and engagement in our democratic processes, particularly in light of Scottish Government and COSLA both individually and collectively, having sought to influence our trade union democracy in their interests and to suit their respective and shared agendas.
EIS members – an overwhelming majority - have now spoken and have spoken with clear voice in favour of acceptance of the March 3rd pay offer, as recommended by the Salaries Committee- whose members, as we consistently had to remind the Scottish Government and COSLA, are teachers democratically elected to represent the views of 80% of teachers in Scotland.
The EIS is home to members with a broad range of views, including on pay matters. This is welcome and is reflected somewhat in the ballot result.
The outcome of this ballot is also indicative of how well attuned members of the Salaries Committee (all teachers) are to the views of the members that they represent. The Scottish Government and COSLA had sought to portray a different narrative within the negotiations- one that suggested that negotiators and the wider Salaries Committee, were out of touch with the teachers whose interests they sought to protect and advance.
The ballot result busts that myth entirely and affirms that EIS democracy is healthy, intact and functioning as it should.
This in itself is a win.
It has been the strength of your engagement and resolve throughout the Pay Attention campaign, culminating in successful strike action over 5 days by all members that involved sacrifice of pay, and the three days of additional targeted strike action taken by members in Glasgow Southside, East Dunbartonshire – Milngavie and Clydebank, Dunfermline and Perthshire North, that forced the Scottish Government and COSLA to move from the intransigent position which they held for six months saying that 5% was all that could and would be afforded for a pay uplift for teachers for the 2022-23 period.
The 7% which was eventually and reluctantly put on the table was because EIS members continued to strike while some other teacher unions had decided to settle for the last substandard offer or not joined in any strike action at all.
There can be no doubt that EIS members’ action during the week of targeted strikes and last week’s national strike days, plus the imminent threat of further targeted action this week, are what won the additional 2% increase.
EIS members’ strike action also won the increased offer of 5% for eight months of 2023-24 before another 2% in January 2024. This swift settlement of the claim for the next financial year is in contrast to the unacceptable delay in this year’s claim being settled.
Teachers will receive the first portion of this uplift (5%) from April 1st, and will be overall better off by 12.3% compared with April 1st 2022, until December; and thereafter by a further 2% in January 2024, giving a total 14.6% cumulative increase, until August 2024.
In the current political and economic climate, this can be seen as a win.
This pay offer sees teachers treated in monetary terms by government and employers, at least equally to other public sector workers who were offered fairer settlements weeks before we were (a strongly anti-teacher agenda was implicit, from time to time explicit, throughout the negotiations).
When it was finally leveraged by members’ strike action, coupled with the efforts of the negotiators, it amounted to 14.6% consolidated over 28 months, with 7% backdated to April, for the vast majority of teachers.
Your strike action won a largely non-differentiated offer in the end, and the shifting of an initial cap from £60k to £80k.
Despite the best efforts of the negotiators, it was not possible to secure complete removal of this cap, in largest part due to what appeared to be a ministerial red-line directive regarding this.
Non-differentiation remains a first principle for future pay negotiations and political work will need to be done now to lay the groundwork for that.
Crucially, for future pay settlements and the continuing campaign of real-terms pay restoration, the Pay Attention campaign has won the permanent movement of the annual settlement date from April 1st to August 1st- something that COSLA, in particular, has resisted for a number of years.
This will prevent delays to settlements as a result of parliamentary and local government elections that draw out and stagger progress with negotiations, and enable money that should be in teachers’ pockets, to sit in the bank accounts of government and employers for months and months longer than it should.
The shift of the settlement date should also make for clear separation of the SNCT negotiating process from that involving other local government unions.
The EIS has argued consistently throughout these negotiations in rejection of the One Workforce agenda and for the principles of sectoral collective bargaining to be upheld. The 1st August settlement date will set us on a much stronger footing on this going forward. It’s another win.
That an overwhelming majority of members have voted in acceptance of the offer, demonstrates, once again, the strong unity of the EIS membership.
You were united in the struggle for fair pay, standing side by side and shoulder to shoulder on picket lines, and you are strongly united now in your judgement of the acceptability of the pay offer.
There should be no question in the minds of the Scottish Government and COSLA, who doubted that teachers would take a single day of strike action, and who tried to initiate division between teachers, between unions, between the EIS and other unions, that as a trade union membership, you are a formidable force.
We began our Pay Attention campaign in early 2022 against a confident, strong and unified Scottish Government with powerful and tested communications skills. Ultimately, we have carried out a series of strikes, hard but fruitful negotiations, and agreed by a democratic process, what we believe was the best deal possible in the circumstances. We leave this pay campaign stronger and more unified, and that is a win.
We are a formidable force because you have moved as a membership from being one comprising a majority of individuals who had never taken strike action before- the last strike on pay being four decades ago- to one comprising a majority who have taken at least five days of strike action in the last four months.
We have organised, stood on picket lines together, rallied and lobbied together, and shared solidarity with colleagues in other branches and local associations doing the same.
All of this has got us to where we now are on pay- significantly better off than when we started back in June when the Pay Attention campaign was formally launched.
From here, we recognise our wins, know our power, pivot and start our next advance - on workload.
Arrangements have been made for the EIS position to be outlined and for the overall Teachers’ Side position agreed and communicated within the SNCT, such that arrangements can be set in motion for payment of backpay and subsequent salary uplifts from 1st April to be made as soon as possible.
Yours with heartfelt thanks and in solidarity