Pay Update

Created on: 14 Jan 2019

Dear  <insert name>,

As you will be aware a special Council meeting was held on Saturday 12th January to progress decisions in relation to the pay campaign.

Following on from the rejection by Salaries Committee of the COSLA revised offer of January 7th (view here), Council approved a move towards a statutory ballot for industrial action, with a formal notification being issued to Councils on Thursday of this week and a starting date of Thursday 31st January for ballot papers to be issued (legally, statutory ballots require to be paper-based postal ballots).

In making this decision, which wasn’t taken lightly, Council was mindful of the fact that for around 70% of members the January 7th offer remained largely the same as that already rejected in the consultative ballot of last year.

We had made clear, however, to both Scottish Government and to COSLA, that despite setting in motion the process of an industrial action ballot’, the EIS remained open to an improved offer at any point prior to the actual ballot papers being issued.

In response to this we received a letter from the Deputy First Minister at 18.00 on Thursday 10th January. In this letter (view here), the DFM sets out the willingness of Scottish Government to improve the January 7th offer by restructuring the 2% originally being offered in August 2018 to a new figure of 3%, payable in January, 2019. The key benefit of this approach is to create a higher starting point for Year 2 and 3.

The net impact of this change is that over a 2-year period the offer would be worth a 9.25% increase compared to March 2018 [3% April 2018 (backdated) + 3% January 2019 + 3% April 2019]. For Headteachers on more than £80,000 it would be worth slightly less as the April 2018 offer is capped at a flat rate of £1,600; and for probationers and those on main grade Point 1 it is worth more as the proposal would still be to shorten the main grade from 6 points to 5.

A further proposed 3% in April 2020 would take the compounded increase to 12.5%, compared to March 2018, i.e. current scales.

I need to stress, however, that at the moment the DFM’s letter is not an offer. Only COSLA, as our employers, can legally make an offer. COSLA has said it cannot consider making an offer until its Leaders meeting planned for January 25th.  You may remember that in terms of the January 7th offer there was a split vote at COSLA Leaders, 15 v 13, so it cannot be taken as a given that an offer will be made.

Clearly, the EIS view is that if Scottish Government is prepared to fund an improved offer it would be perverse for COSLA to refuse to do so.

The Special Council meeting agreed that if an improved offer is made before ballot papers are issued, then the strike ballot will be suspended and members will be consulted on the revised offer made.

This would be a consultative ballot conducted electronically.

Council, at its next meeting on January 25th, will consider what its recommendation should be in relation to a potential new offer based on the DFM’s letter.

We are keen to know what members think and we will be asking school reps to hold meetings in order to garner feedback.  

In the meantime, we will continue with our preparations for the statutory strike ballot on the January 7th offer and an FAQ section on strike action has been added to the website (view here).

There is no doubt that the potential for a further improved offer has only come about because of the magnificent solidarity of our pay campaign, characterised by a desire to negotiate a settlement but a willingness to consider strike action if required. It will be for members to decide the next steps, but we are already in a much stronger place to take on the other challenges the profession faces such as workload and the shortage of ASN support.

Apologies for the length of this email but I think that it is important that you are kept as fully informed as possible. Further updates will be issued as matters develop.

Larry Flanagan

General Secretary