The Scottish Government has the funds to improve our pay offer but they, of course, have competing priorities. Our Pay Attention campaign is designed to create pressure to push teachers’ pay higher up the Scottish Government and COSLA’s priority list.
Supportive speeches from other trade unions and a passionate speech from our President, Andrene Bamford, in front of Parliament yesterday, added to the pressure. A 25,000 signature EIS petition sent to the Scottish Government and COSLA before the summer added pressure, and our AGM showed teachers’ anger to the Cabinet Secretary who was there.
This past week our consultative ballot has ratcheted up the pressure further…
The 2018-21 pay rise of 13.5% came about after a long period of building pressure – postcards to the Scottish Government, 30,000 teachers marching in Glasgow and a final consultative ballot that showed that the statutory ballot thresholds for strike action would be smashed. As soon as the statutory ballot notices were issued – the Scottish Government and COSLA came back with an acceptable offer…
Our EIS FELA members are the best-paid college lecturers in the UK. This is because they have been out on strike eight times in recent years to protect their pay and their terms and conditions. They were always told there was no money to fund their pay claims – but funds were always found.
Our Local Authority colleagues in Unison, Unite and GMB sought an improved pay offer on par with the pay offer made in England. They were told the Scottish Government could not afford it; after limited strike action, they have obtained a better pay deal than that on offer in England.
The strike action that you are being asked to show support for in this ballot is our last resort. There is no easy time to strike, and some teachers may say that they cannot afford to strike – we say that the profession cannot afford not to take action. Without action, the value of teachers’ pay in Scotland will ebb away whilst other professions who are prepared to strike to protect their pay and their standards of living will secure pay rises.
On Wednesday, The Herald reported, “John Swinney has set out more than £500million of spending cuts to balance the Holyrood budget in light of surging inflation and public sector pay settlements.”
We, teachers, have the power to protect our pay and to pursue our pay claim to success. We need to use that power.