So far, the Scottish Government and COSLA have not responded to our recent consultative ballot result that illustrated your determination to take strike action, if necessary, to pursue our pay claim. We have now moved a step closer to taking strike action by preparing to open a statutory ballot.
With tight finances, a few may believe that they can't afford to take strike action should it come to that, but the reality is that the teaching profession simply can't afford not to take action to defend our pay.
The offer currently on the table is a mere 5%.
Meanwhile interest rates are projected to rise, partly as a response to the UK government's "fiscal event" for growth. The "markets" are predicting that interest rates may treble to 6% by next year – which will push mortgage repayments and rents up.
RPI (inflation) currently sits at 12.3%, for the second month in a row. Some economists have predicted that inflation could rise to 18% soon. The recent drop in the value of the pound may exacerbate this…
Against this backdrop, the 5% pay offer made by COSLA more than a month ago is both derisory and way out of touch with the reality of the cost of living for Scotland’s teachers.
A statutory ballot for strike action seems to be the only option now available to make COSLA and the Scottish Government realise that our members meant what they said in the consultative ballot and that the pay offer needs to be improved if strike action is to be averted.
It was a successful statutory ballot result and the very real threat of strike action and school closures that succeeded earlier this month in getting a much better pay deal for school support staff than was initially on the table.
The EIS Executive has therefore authorised a statutory ballot to open in October unless an acceptable offer is made imminently.
Turnout is key in any statutory ballot. The Tory anti-trade union laws mean that there are three thresholds to beat to obtain a "strike mandate":
- We need a majority vote overall for strike action
- We must have 50% turnout, i.e. 50% of those who are sent a ballot paper using their vote
- We need 40% of members balloted to vote for strike action
The last two thresholds were added by the UK government in 2016, to make it even more difficult for unions to take strike action, with the last threshold only applying to essential services such as schools.
The statutory ballot is run by an independent balloteer and must be a postal ballot – with papers posted to your home address – rather than the more convenient online voting.
The ballot system has deliberately been designed to make it difficult for unions to meet the thresholds and to ensure that members who do not use their ballot and who do not vote are effectively voting against industrial action.