By Jim Halfpenny, EIS branch secretary West Dunbartonshire
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the country’s largest teaching union which represents more than 80% of the country’s teachers, has warned that the pay of Scotland’s teachers must be substantially improved this year if strike action in schools is to be avoided.
This follows a motion from West Dunbartonshire EIS to their national conference in June 2017, unanimously supported by delegates, calling for a pay campaign based on industrial action.
This clearly reflects the anger and dissatisfaction among teachers throughout the country at the decline in the real value of their salaries and the increase in their workload.
Teachers salaries have fallen by over 16% since 2008 This is in stark contrast to the picture in most other OECD countries, where levels of pay for teachers increased over the same period. This demonstrates that, far from being an inevitable consequence of the global economic situation, a political choice was taken to cut teachers’ pay in this country.
Last year’s pay offer, based on the Scottish Government putting in an extra £4M, was once again below the rate of inflation and is clearly another wage cut in real terms.
When teachers take in to consideration that the Scottish Government managed a budget underspend of £155M in 2015-16 followed by an underspend of £75M in 2016-17 they will see £4M as an insult to a profession which in being overwhelmed by workload, increasing pension contributions and entitlement at the age of 68.
Add to this the fact that Scottish Local Authorities declared an underspend last year of £450M while holding reserves of £2BN. Despite administering Tory cuts and implementing their austerity agenda, Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, recently declared that trade unions were a force for good in society and attacking them was akin to an attack on human rights.
She went on to add that the SNP will always value a strong, vibrant trade union movement which stands up forits workers.
Teachers in Scotland will look forward to her presence on their picket lines. But we won’t hold our breath