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Education Secretary urged to intervene in teacher pay talks

A previous 5% pay offer was rejected by teaching unions (Ben Birchall/PA)
A previous 5% pay offer was rejected by teaching unions (Ben Birchall/PA)

A teachers’ union has urged Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville to intervene in pay talks.

Teachers have rejected a 5% pay offer from local authorities, bringing the prospect of strike action closer.

On Wednesday, the NASUWT urged the Education Secretary to get involved in pay talks.

Negotiations for teachers are currently handled by the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) a tripartite body with representatives from the Scottish Government, teachers and councils.

NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: “It is extremely disappointing that despite our best efforts, the Cabinet Secretary has failed to prioritise talks to avert future industrial action in schools.

“The government and employers need to demonstrate that they are serious about addressing the deepening crisis in teacher morale, recruitment and retention.

“Nine out of 10 teachers are worried about their finances, or taking on second and third jobs to make ends meet, using food banks, struggling with rent and mortgage costs, and using up their savings to pay monthly bills.

“The Scottish Government and the employers must stop taking the teaching profession for granted.”

Dr Roach went on to say the union was acting “on the very clear mandate of our members to step up our campaign to secure a real-terms pay award for teachers”.

“The latest pay cut proposals from the employers are an insult to the teaching profession,” he added.

“The continuing delays and procrastination by the Government and the employers are rubbing salt into the wounds.

“Teachers deserve better than this.

“Industrial action in schools will be the fault of Government and employers alone.”

Involvement from the Education Secretary in the negotiations would be the second time in recent months where pay negotiations were subject to direct ministerial intervention.

The First Minister, in a bid to avert strike action from waste workers and non-teaching education staff, held marathon talks with unions and local authority body Cosla, eventually reaching a deal that saw walkouts cancelled.

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

“The Cabinet Secretary holds regular meetings with all teachers’ unions to discuss a range of issues, including pay. These meetings have taken place over the last week, with more talks scheduled next week, which will include the NASUWT.

“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.

“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.”