Scotland’s teachers will be walking out again in a rolling strike campaign

Scottish teachers are set to strike for the last time as part of their recent walkout campaign – but more action is on the cards with no new pay offer from Holyrood.

Members of the Education Institute of Scotland (EIS) union in Inverclyde and Shetland will take to the picket lines on Monday, with most primary and secondary schools closed.

The teachers’ unions are demanding a 10% pay rise for their members, but the Scottish Government has ruled out that this is unaffordable and has offered a 5% pay rise.

Industrial strike

Members of the Scottish Institute of Education were on strike as they fought for higher pay (Jane Barlow/PA)

The 16-day wave of walkouts, which has affected schoolchildren across Scotland, has not seen Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville and local authorities buckle, and unions have warned that industrial action will continue.

Without an agreement, strikes could continue into the spring exam period. This was the third examination period out of the last four years to be affected by disruption following the impact of Covid-19 in 2020 and 2021.

The EIS has already announced two days of national strikes, on 28 February and 1 March, followed by another wave of rolling strikes between 13 March and 21 April.

On Sunday, Ms Somerville, who said Holyrood and the teachers’ unions were still “somewhat apart”, told the BBC that it was up to the teaching unions to suspend strikes ahead of the exam period to ensure no into any.

Teachers on strike

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the Scottish Government and local councils and teachers’ unions were still ‘somewhat apart’ (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“One of the aspects I am very determined to ensure is that children and young people have very limited disruption to their education in the future – exams are a vital part of that,” she said.

“I would hope that everyone involved in this dispute would be able to agree that we do not want exams to be disrupted.”

The minister said she was “absolutely” doing everything she could to end the dispute.

But Des Morris, the salary convenor for the EIS teaching union, said there had been little movement from the Government and councils since the 5% pay offer was made.

He said it was “increasingly difficult” to reconcile public statements from ministers with what was happening in the negotiations.

Digital mock exams

Strikes could continue into the spring exam period (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“During January we have heard several statements such as ‘no stone will be left unturned’ to find a solution, offering to ‘look at all options’, statements that ‘there must be a compromise on both sides’, which the Scottish Government is ‘digging in its heels’,” he told the same programme.

“But all these statements culminated in our pay meeting on January 20 – the last pay meeting held – when the message was basically: ‘Teachers, see we offered you a 5% offer six months ago? take it or leave it’

“If that’s not digging your heels in, I really don’t know what is.”

Mr Morris said there had been a “complete lack of urgency” from the Scottish Government and the council’s umbrella body Cosla.

Regarding the exam issue, Mr Morris said it was not his right to say whether there would be strikes that would affect students, adding that the EIS executive committee constantly reviews their industrial action plans.

Leave a comment