Teachers’ unions and the Scottish Government are still “some distance” on the wage deal.

Teachers’ unions and the Scottish Government “remain some distance” from agreeing on the affordability of an improved salary offer, the Scottish Minister for Education has said.

Primary schools across the country have been shut down after last-minute talks failed to prevent strikes, and secondary school staff are due to leave on Wednesday.

Unions have asked for a 10% pay rise, but the Scottish Government has offered 5%, including increases of up to 6.85% for the lowest-paid workers.

A meeting of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT), which brings together unions, local authorities and the Scottish Government, was held on Monday to try to avert the strike.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, speaking on BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland program, said Monday’s talks had been “constructive” but described the unions’ wage demands as “simply prohibitive”.


Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland also went on strike last year (Jane Barlow/PA)

After talks broke down, members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), NASUWT, the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) and the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS) went on strike.

It follows that SSTA and NASUWT members became active for two days in December while EIS members dropped out on November 24th.

Asked if she expected a new offer to be on the table before the end of the week, Ms Somerville said: “We will continue talks with unions. I think the challenge we face is that in terms of what the Scottish Government and local government can afford and what they can bring to the table, we have some distance to the union demand that course a 10 percent raise.

“If that was accepted, if the 5% was accepted, you would actually have seen a 21.8% cumulative increase in teachers since 2018.

“Therefore we try very hard to bring a fair and affordable package to the table, but unfortunately we remain a little apart.”

She added: “The wage demands we have from our fellow unionists are simply unaffordable for the Scottish Government, which operates from a firm budget already allocated which is also being eroded by inflation, and that makes it a very difficult and challenging process to a conclusion and resolution.”

However, she said she hopes to get back to the table with unions later this week.

At the start of the programme, NASUWT Scotland National Representative Mike Corbett expressed concern that unions and the government were still a long way from a wage agreement.

He said the last offer in November was “disguised as an improved offer” but did not improve pay for the “vast majority of teachers”.

He added: “There is still no formally revised offer on the table and that is why our members and others feel they have no choice but to strike again today and tomorrow.”

Asked if the union would be willing to settle for anything between what they are being offered and 10%, he said: “I think what needs to happen first is that a really improved offer comes out and – we are a member-run union – if we get an offer that we think is decent, then it’s up to our members to decide what they think about it.

“But we’re not there at the moment – although there is reason for optimism, the fact that talks were held on Friday and Monday and some progress was made.”

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/uk/teaching-unions-and-scottish-government-still-some-distance-apart-on-pay-deal-42274943.html Teachers’ unions and the Scottish Government are still “some distance” on the wage deal.


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