Last Wednesday, following our consultative ballot result, the EIS (as the majority of the Teachers’ Panel) rejected COSLA’s 5% pay offer. The reason given was that 5% is "insufficient". This eBulletin sets out why we told COSLA and the Scottish Government that it was insufficient and that we deserve a better deal.
The EIS accepted the 2021-22 pay offer of 2.22% on the basis that it would seek an "inflation plus" award the following year. This was communicated to COSLA and the Scottish Government.
Whilst the EIS pay claim of 10% was formulated at a time of rising inflation, the cost-of-living crisis had not materialised and the 10% claim was designed as an "inflation plus" claim in order to restore some of the value of teachers’ pay lost since 2008.
A teacher at the top of the main scale earned £32,583 in 2008, whilst the RPI inflation index# was 214.0. In April 2022, the same pay point has increased by 29.9% to £42,336, but the RPI inflation index had increased by 56.4% to 334.6. That is a 26% real terms cut in pay since 2008. (The 2022-23 pay offer of 5% simply reduces the real terms pay cut over the period to around 20%).
RPI inflation has now risen to 12.3% but members’ personal inflationary impacts will be different to these inflation figures depending on members' lifestyles, travel costs and home energy/heating etc.
In recent days, the UK Government's "fiscal event" seems to have had a negative impact on financial markets and may fuel higher inflation, which is likely to lead to further interest rate rises that will affect mortgages and house purchases. The "fiscal event" led to a small increase in revenue due to "Barnett Consequentials" to the Scottish Government, and the EIS is clear that whilst the "fiscal event" has had an impact, it does not prevent or hinder the Scottish Government in settling our pay claim.
The EIS has been clear that teachers as hard-working professionals who have kept education going throughout the deepest challenges of the pandemic, do not deserve to and should not be expected to pay for a cost-of-living crisis that they did not create.
Another aspect of our 10% claim is to deliver pay justice for all, as we must also recognise that the current cost-of-living crisis does not affect us equally. Women, and colleagues who are underrepresented in our profession as a result of structural barriers have already seen their pay decline in real terms or lag behind for decades, due to inaccessibility, discrimination and barriers to progression. This is an injustice that we need to work together collectively to put right. Pursuing this 10% pay claim for everyone is one way that we can do that.
Take the gender pay gap, for example.
Although at face value it might seem that teaching and teachers are immune from gender pay inequality because we have an agreed set of pay scales that are applied regardless of gender, in addition to uneven distribution of promoted posts within the profession, with women being underrepresented in the most senior posts, there is also the issue of unfavourable salary comparison with other graduate professions.
Professions in which men have traditionally made up the majority of the workforce tend to pay better than traditionally women-dominated jobs. The EIS, like many other education unions internationally, believes that the undervaluing of teachers overall, is linked to the fact that the vast majority are women and work that is done by a majority workforce of women has typically been less well paid than that done by men. Our 10% claim will have the effect of raising teachers’ pay to be closer to the pay of men-dominated graduate professions thereby helping to close the inter-profession gender pay gap.
Finally, yesterday saw the possible resolution of the criminal barristers’ pay dispute. They had taken strike action to protect their pay against an intransigent employer and have obtained an improved offer! By showing our willingness to take strike action in the forthcoming statutory ballot, we can win similar gains on pay.
# The Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes different types of inflation figures every month. Each inflation figure is calculated from a notional basket of goods and services, with the price of each basket recorded every month to create an index.
The percentage year-on-year change in the value of each index produces the % "inflation", e.g. in September 2022 the value of the RPI index was published for August 2022. The percentage change in the RPI index between August 2021 and August 2022 was 12.3%. Trade unions believe that RPI inflation is closest to the cost-of-living costs facing workers.