Created on: 30 Jan 2023 | Last modified: 03 Apr 2023
Continuing Strike Action
We are currently on day 11 of our rolling 16 day cycle of strikes - the 10th day of having two Local Authorities on a 1 day strike – and the depth and breadth of members' determination to defend our pay is crystal clear across all parts of Scotland.
The Scottish Government has sought to break the strike and crack teachers' resolve; by spinning some dubious assertions, by seeking to sow division within schools and by cynically sitting on its hands whilst Scotland's schools have been closed.
By putting the spotlight on each of the 32 local authorities, our recent strikes have shown that teachers from all parts Scotland are willing to stand up for their pay. This remains a member led and member supported strike for members' long term interests.
Last Friday's EIS Council meeting
EIS Council met last Friday as part of the normal cycle of meetings, and Council received pay campaign updates from the EIS Salaries Convener, Vice President and General Secretary. Our membership has increased in recent months. Our strikes are strong and support remains rock solid. Our members drive this action and they understand what is at stake. The number and size ofof picket lines are growing, and the public has been supportive.
It was also reported that the Scottish Government wants to talk this week. We have previously advised the Scottish Government & COSLA not to come to meetings without firm proposals to negotiate a pay deal. Whilst the Scottish Government has previously called recent talks "constructive", the reality is that they are giving conflicting signals - sometimes they indicate they are working out how much of an improved offer they can give us, but at the last meeting it stated that it would not improve the offer for 2022-23.
(The last meeting was taking place at the same time as the First Minister was being filmed telling Laura Kuenssberg that she did want to give more money to teachers….)
EIS Council has endorsed the plans to escalate the strike action if there is no resolution to the pay dispute by the end of February. We hope that it will not be needed but it may be necessary.
Staying Strike Strong; Knowing what we are fighting for…
Striking is not easy, and is justifiably called the "last resort" as members sacrifice their pay in pursuit of better pay over the long-term. Members who are hard hit are advised to check our Hardship Payments webpage.
The Scottish Government has a "hard" negotiation style – it publicly talks about compromise but in "negotiations" it only wants the teachers to compromise. The Scottish Government has dug in, it pushes a single outcome (their pay offer) and has pushed a strategy of small, slow concessions. It argues it has a fixed budget and no money, whilst finding hundreds of millions for other bargaining groups since the summer…
The lived experience of our members is that we have seen the value of our pay packets fall by over 20% relative to inflation (RPI) since 2008.
In March 2008, a teacher at the top of the main scale earned £32,583 pa when the RPI index was 214.0; the RPI index increased to 323.5 in March 2022. For a teacher to have the same salary purchasing power in 2022 as in 2008, they would have to have earned £49,255pa yet the actual salary in March 2022 was £42,336pa – a real terms pay cut of almost £7,000 for 2021-22 compared to 2007-2008. This is why our bills have become more difficult to afford.
Teachers will lose over £7,000 in real terms pay next year as well, unless we win this pay dispute. Such losses are accumulative. In 10 years' time teachers will lose the equivalent of £70,000 in real terms if this decline in teachers' pay relative to inflation is not addressed.
This huge real-terms long term decline in pay will also affect the value of our pensions.
Starting pay for teachers is high in Scotland compared to other countries but it soon fizzles out, meaning that experienced teachers (15 years' service) are paid less in Scotland than the OECD average, whilst delivering the third highest amount of teaching hours. Experienced teachers are paid less to do more in Scotland than the OECD average – and the main organisation pushing to improve this is the EIS.
Protecting our pay in 2022-23 places us in the best position to defend our profession in the coming years.
We will continue to keep members informed of developments in the pay campaign.
Right to Strike
Striking is a necessary action as a last resort when negotiation with problematic employers has not brought agreement. Such employers will not shift their position without strike action or the threat of strike action. The hard truth is that workers need to sacrifice their pay in order to make their employers act.
The UK Government is fast-tracking changes to Trade Union law that will undermine workers' ability to strike by insisting on "minimum service levels". Despite the fact that there has been no national programme of strike action in Scottish, English or Welsh schools for almost 40 years, the UK Government has included schools in the trade union legislation.
By taking strike action and the threat of strike action off the table, our bargaining position with COSLA/Scottish Government will weaken.
The Trade Union movement is united in fighting these planned changes to trade union law. Our previously announced strike programme has Aberdeen City and Clackmannanshire on strike in pursuit of the pay claim on the TUC and STUC national day of action of 1st February, as well as UWS, Edinburgh Napier and Glasgow Caledonian Universities.
Our General Secretary, Andrea Bradley, will be speaking at the STUC Rally to "Defend the Right to Strike" in Glasgow's Trades Hall. Our President, Andrene Bamford, will be addressing the STUC Rally at Buchanan Steps in Glasgow at lunchtime on 1st February.
Please see the STUC website for other events on that day.