Secondary teachers to ballot for strike action

Posted: 19th October 2022

Secondary school teachers are prepared to close schools to force the Scottish Government and Cosla to negotiate on an improved pay offer, a teaching union has said.

The Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) has confirmed it has authorised a statutory ballot for strike action amid an “insulting” pay offer.

Union members had voted overwhelmingly by 83% in a consultative ballot on industrial action following a 5% pay offer, which was rejected by SSTA members by 91%.

The statutory ballot will now commence on October 26 and close on November 16.

Seamus Searson, SSTA general secretary, said threatening to walk out of classrooms was the only way to get the Scottish Government and local government body Cosla to act.

The union have said the pay offer is unsatisfactory as the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) demanded a 10% pay rise.

The SSTA is now urging all of its membership to vote in favour of strike action when the ballot opens next week.

Mr Searson said: “Unfortunately, the threat of strike action seems to be the only thing Cosla and Scottish Government take seriously.

“This market stall brinkmanship mentality is insulting to teachers, parents and young people.

“It really shows how much teachers are undervalued by their employers. All the hard work teachers had done during the pandemic, keeping the education system open, has all been forgotten.

“Teachers don’t want to go on strike, but they will to achieve a fair and just settlement. Grow up negotiations are long overdue on a pay settlement that should have been in place on April 1 this year.”

Catherine Nicol, the union’s president, said: “Cosla and the Government appear to be awaiting strike action before they enter further discussions.

“No offer has been made since August 19. Teachers are determined to get a fair deal and are prepared to strike.

“Closing schools is the only way that Cosla and the Scottish Government will be forced to negotiate.

“The SSTA has been committed to reaching a suitable agreement through negotiation but, to date, Cosla has not been prepared to engage in meaningful negotiations or make an improved offer.

“Cosla’s approach has necessitated the move towards strike action.”

A Cosla spokesperson said: “Scottish Local Government values its entire workforce including teachers.

“The offer being made is one that not only can be afforded with the additional monies being provided, but critically enables Councils to protect Education services and those other services that support its effective running.

“Along with Scottish Government we are disappointed that the teaching unions have rejected it.

“Accepting the offer of 5% would have meant that teachers received a cumulative pay increase of 21.8% since 2018. For example, a teacher on point 5 of the main grade scale would have seen their annual salary increase from £36,480 at the start of 2018 to £44,454 from April 1 2022.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Strikes are in no one’s interest – least of all for pupils, parents and carers who have already faced significant disruption over the past three years.

“This Government has a strong record of support for teachers and are proud to have the best paid workforce of anywhere in the UK. It is disappointing that unions have rejected the latest pay offer. Accepting the offer of 5% would have meant that teachers received a cumulative pay increase of 21.8% since 2018.

“The Cabinet Secretary holds regular meetings with all teachers’ unions to discuss a range of issues, including pay. These meetings (including those with the SSTA) have taken place over the last few weeks.

“We are absolutely committed to supporting a fair pay offer for teachers through the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers, the body that negotiates teachers’ pay and conditions of service.

“It is for local authorities, as the employer, to make a revised pay offer.”

Source: Secondary school teachers to vote on possible strike action – The Courier

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