Teachers ‘deliberately misled’ over pay offer, union claims

The Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association said the latest deal was ‘pathetic’ and not the serious proposal the union had been expecting.

Pupils in class
Pupils in class

Teachers were “deliberately misled” by the Scottish Government and Cosla before a “pathetic” new pay offer was tabled, a union has said.

The Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) has condemned ministers and local authority chiefs after teachers rejected the new salary proposals on Wednesday.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville dismissed the claims as “simply untrue”.

Teachers earning under £40,107 would have been given an increase of £1,926 – 6.85% for those on the lowest salaries – while the highest earners would get 5%.

Every school on Scotland’s mainland closed on Thursday as members of the EIS union took strike action in the pay dispute.

The SSTA is planning to strike on December 7 and 8.

The union said its salaries and conditions of service committee unanimously rejected the latest offer.

Seamus Searson, general secretary of the SSTA, said the Government and Cosla had made teachers believe a “serious increased pay offer” would be put on the table.

He said: “The Scottish Government and Cosla have deliberately misled the teachers’ unions into believing a serious increased pay offer would be made.

“After three months what we received was a pathetic and insulting pay offer that penalised senior teachers to the benefit of a very small number of new entrants.

Teachers strike
Teachers from the EIS union walked out on strike on Thursday in the pay dispute (Jane Barlow/PA)

“This treatment only shows contempt for teachers. How they think this is a sensible offer is beyond belief.

“A misleading statement by Scottish Government that falsely twists statistics to try and give the impression that this is a serious and substantial pay offer only compounds the feeling of contempt.

“For the vast majority of teachers there is no new offer. SSTA members have no option but to continue with planned strike action on December 7 and 8.”

Paul Cochrane, SSTA salaries and working conditions committee convener, said: “It is evident that Cosla and the Scottish Government have refused to listen to the view of the teachers’ side that any offer should be undifferentiated and reflective of the current economic situation faced by a workforce that stood tall during the critical period of the Covid-19 pandemic

“Cosla’s behaviour has illustrated that, by dint of delay and late postponement of timetabled meetings, it has never been serious about settling with teachers. The tripartite consensus has been deliberately sabotaged and used as a stick to frustrate and punish teachers.”

Ms Somerville said: “Claims the Scottish Government and Cosla have deliberately misled the teacher unions is simply untrue.

“It is simply unaffordable to have a 10% increase which unions are asking for within the fixed budget which the Scottish Government is working in.

“I recognise the strength of feeling within the unions but they also need to recognise that the Scottish Government budget is fixed and is already committed. Any new money for teacher pay would have to come from elsewhere in education.”

But Cosla resource spokeswoman Katie Hagmann said the latest offer was “fair and affordable” and “recognised the cost-of-living crisis as the priority by focusing on higher increases for staff on lower pay points”.

She added: “The offer we have made is in line with the offers made to all other parts of the public sector, including the wider local government workforce.

“The response of our trade union partners in disappointing given the financial challenges facing everybody, but we remain open to having open and honest conversations about how we can reach a viable and realistic settlement that protects the best interests of teacher, children and young people and our wider communities.”

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