First Scottish teachers’ strike for four decades sent strong message to government

On Thursday 24 November, teachers across Scotland walked out in the first day of national strike action over pay in almost 40 years. EIS members turned out in their thousands on school picket lines and at campaign rallies right across Scotland. Every single state primary and secondary school in mainland Scotland was closed as a result of the strike action.

Pictures and videos of teachers on picket lines flooded social media, with the trending hashtags #PayAttention and #EISstrike becoming an embarrassment to COSLA and the Scottish Government – whose joint inaction over teacher pay prompted the historic strike action.

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley said, “EIS members across Scotland have responded magnificently, turning out in their tens of thousands on picket lines and at pay campaign demos across the country. Our members do not want to be on strike, but they have been angered by the repeated foot-dragging of COSLA and the Scottish Government over pay. The final straw for many teachers was the charade of the ‘revised’ offer that came from the employers just before our strike action commenced. This offer was simply a repackaging of the same 5% offer that our members overwhelmingly rejected in a ballot three months ago.”

Ms Bradley continued, “I’m not sure if the Scottish Government and COSLA really believed that they could pull the wool over the eyes of Scotland’s teachers with their revised offer – it should be no surprise to them that Scotland’s teachers, who are highly numerate, can do a few straightforward sums. Our members know that the ‘new’ offer, which the EIS rejected out of hand, is actually the same old offer, carefully repackaged and repolished by the Scottish Government spin-machine. While some elements of the media may have swallowed the government line, hook and sinker, Scotland’s teachers are not easily fooled.”

Ms Bradley added, “The EIS national strike on pay – the first, under any government, for almost 40 years – must serve as a wake-up call to both COSLA and the Scottish Government. We would urge the Scottish Government and COSLA to return to the negotiating table with a credible new offer, so that Scotland’s teachers can get back to doing what they want to do – working to deliver the best possible education for young people across Scotland.”

What happens next?

  • The EIS has no strike action planned during the month of December.
  • We hope that COSLA and the Scottish Government will negotiate a new, improved offer before schools return in January.
  • Should no satisfactory new offer be received, the EIS has scheduled two further days of national strike action for 10 January (primary & ASN primary) and 11 January (secondary & ASN secondary & associated professionals – e.g. IMTs, QIOs etc).
  • Following these two national days of strike action, the EIS will then commence a 16-day rolling programme of strike action through the rest of January and into February.
  • During this 16-day period, the EIS will call its members in two local authority areas out on strike action each day.
  • Please see below for details on the strike action planned for January and February.

The “new” pay offer was essentially the old pay offer, rebranded.

The “old” offer was worth an average of 5%. The “new” offer was worth an average of 5.07%

The vast majority of teachers would be no better off with the “new” pay offer compared to the old pay offer.

96% of EIS members voted to strike over a 5% offer. The Scottish Government and COSLA responded with…a 5% pay offer.

Compared to the old offer, the “new” pay offer is worth, on average, an extra 71p per week to teachers.

96% of EIS members voted to strike, and 100% of Scotland’s mainland schools were closed as a result of the 5% pay offer.

For most teachers, the revised offer was no improvement at all, as 80% of teachers were still being offered 5%.

Since our pay claim was submitted, inflation has soared. The Scottish Government has no business calling on us to adjust what we are asking for in a downward direction.

The Scottish Government and COSLA have dragged negotiations out endlessly – it took them 3 months to come back with essentially the same offer we had already rejected!

The tactics of both COSLA and the Scottish Government in this process have been nothing short of disgraceful.

Teachers should have received a pay rise in April – it’s now December, and we are still waiting.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said, “Judge me on Education”. With the 96% vote for strike action, and the first national strike for 40 years, the judgement of teachers on the matter of pay is very clear.

Strike Action Schedule