Second teaching union threatens strike action

23 January 2018, 06:00

Empty classroom

A second union has warned of the potential for industrial action to secure above inflation pay for teachers this year.

A survey conducted by the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association (SSTA) found 96% of its members were prepared to take industrial action and 64% were prepared to strike.

Earlier this month the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) also threatened industrial action in schools, warning that a below inflation pay rise would be "unacceptable".

The 2018/19 pay settlement for Scotland's teachers will be decided by the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT), which includes members from teaching organisations, councils and the Scottish Government.

Last month a backdated deal on teachers' pay for 2017 was reached, including a 1% pay rise backdated to April 2017, and a further 1% uplift from January until the end of March 2018.

SSTA, which surveyed 1,359 members, found that 77% were not content with the 2017 pay increase and 89% did not believe it would encourage teachers to remain in the profession.

A further 68% of teachers said they were considering or had considered a career outside of teaching, while 50% were expecting a "substantial" pay offer in 2018.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has committed to lifting the 1% public sector pay cap and providing for a 3% pay rise for NHS staff, police, teachers and others earning up to £30,000 and 2% for those earning more than £30,000.

Seamus Searson, SSTA general secretary, said: "The SSTA member survey highlighted the lack of recognition and the unhappiness of the teaching profession.

"Although pay is critical in retaining teachers the 'never ending' workload is pushing many teachers away from the profession.

"It is very worrying in a time of teacher shortage that 68% of teachers have considered or are considering leaving the profession.

"The government must see its priority to retain the experienced teachers we have now.

"This will only be achieved with a substantial pay rise in 2018 and a radical change to cut teacher workload.

"The government must be prepared to ask if it can afford to lose more of its experienced teachers if it wishes to maintain education standards."

A government spokeswoman said: "Industrial action in our schools would not be in the interest of anyone, least of all pupils and parents.

"This government was the first in the UK to commit to lift the 1% public sector pay cap, and the teachers' pay deal for 2017-18 reflects this commitment.

"This deal also commits members of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) to undertaking a strategic review of pay and reward to ensure teaching remains an attractive career, and we will play our part in those discussions."