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Scotland's teachers move closer to strike action after overwhelmingly rejecting ‘final’ pay offer

THREE Scottish education unions moved closer to strike action this evening after teachers overwhelmingly rejected a “final” pay offer from the government and councils.

Cosla, which represents Scottish councils, said the offer would give all teachers a 3 per cent pay rise as well as “further measures to address recruitment and retention issues.”

But in an indicative ballot, 98 per cent of Education Institute of Scotland (EIS) members voted to reject the proposal from councils and the Scottish government.

Meanwhile, in the smaller Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA), 97 per cent of members rejected the offer.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “Today’s near-unanimous rejection of the pay offer is a landmark result, one of the strongest rejections of an offer in EIS history and one which is indicative of the current mood of Scotland’s teachers, increasingly agitated on pay but angry also at excessive workload, mainstreaming on the cheap and austerity driven cuts to resources.”

Unions are calling for a 10 per cent pay rise to make up for a decade of wage restraint.

The rejection of the latest offer and the indication by employers and SNP ministers that they will not better it means a wave of strike action is more likely. Conciliation talks broke down last month.

SSTA general secretary Seamus Searson said: “It is time for the government to return to the negotiating table and treat teachers with respect and seek a meaningful settlement.

“It needs to be remembered that the government and Cosla ended negotiations back in October. Now they must be prepared to negotiate to avoid an escalation of the dispute and the potential for industrial action.”

A third teaching union, the NASUWT, said it would now “consider a formal ballot for industrial action on pay” if the government does not act to redress real terms pay cuts in Scotland.

“One-off, inadequate annual percentage pay awards do nothing to close the 20 per cent pay gap faced by teachers as a result of year-on-year pay cuts,” the union’s general secretary Chris Keates said.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “This was the best pay deal in the UK for 2018-19, so it is disappointing that teachers have rejected what I believe was a strong and fair offer.”

  •  LARGE numbers of English teachers joined a “march for education” in Whitehall last night, as trade union members demanded reversal of cuts to school budgets. Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that schools would get just £400 million in funding for “little extras” in his Budget speech and National Education Union co-general secretary Mary Bousted said: “This was widely viewed by teachers, head teachers and support staff as an insult, at a time when schools are suffering a £2bn shortfall in funding per year.”

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