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Teachers walk out in first national pay strike in almost 40 years

Teachers on the picket line outside Oxgangs Primary School in Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA)
Teachers on the picket line outside Oxgangs Primary School in Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA)

Schoolchildren are being forced to stay at home as teachers across Scotland walk out in their first national pay strike in almost 40 years.

Every school on the Scottish mainland will be shut as thousands of teachers picket their workplaces as members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) demand a higher pay packet, with warnings of more strikes to come.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville warned the Scottish Government’s budget is under “extreme pressure” and the 10% rise demanded is “unaffordable” after a last-ditch offer was made in a bid to avert the strike.

Teachers on strike
A picket line outside Oxgangs Primary School in Edinburgh as teachers walked out (Jane Barlow/PA)

But Andrea Bradley, the union’s general secretary, dismissed the latest proposal, in which the lowest-paid staff receive a 6.85% increase with most getting a 5% rise as “simply a lazy reheating of the offer that our members have already rejected”.

“Such a pathetic, divisive offer will never be acceptable to the EIS or to Scotland’s teachers, and Scotland’s teachers will be out in force today – on picket lines outside schools and at pay campaign rallies across Scotland – to demonstrate clearly their outrage and their determination to secure a much-improved, genuinely fair pay settlement from Cosla and the Scottish Government,” she said.

Ms Somerville said: “Strikes are in no-one’s interest and we continue to engage with the unions to find a resolution.

“It is very disappointing that the EIS has rejected the latest offer, which is fair and progressive and mirrors the deal accepted by other local government workers.”

Languages consultation
Scottish Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said strikes are in no-one’s interest (Jane Barlow/PA)

Under Ms Somerville’s proposed deal the union has said only 8.4% of staff would get the largest rise of 6.85%, while almost three-quarters would see a 5% rise, and more than half of head and deputy head teachers would be worse off than under pervious offers.

When the latest pay offer was made to the union on Tuesday, which the union’s general secretary described as a “differentiated pay cut whichever way you look at it”, the EIS quickly rejected it.

As well as picketing outside schools across the country, teachers will take their campaign for higher pay to Holyrood as they demonstrate outside the Scottish Parliament.

Ahead of the rally, Ms Bradley said her members had been “forced into this strike” and the tactics of local government body Cosla and the Scottish Government had been “nothing short of disgraceful”.

“They have offered a series of substandard offers that fall far below the rate of inflation and far short of the justifiable expectations of Scotland’s hard-working teaching professionals,” she said.

“They have dragged the process out endlessly while soaring inflation has decreased the value of their offers still further.

“And, in their most recent insult, they presented a long-awaited ‘revised’ offer at the last possible minute, which was simply an obvious repackaging of the same offer that teachers overwhelming rejected three months ago.”