The EIS has lauded Scotland’s teachers for their ongoing programme of strike action in pursuit of an improved pay deal from the Scottish Government and COSLA.
The recent meeting of EIS Council (see report on pp4-6) condemned the Scottish Government and COSLA for their continuing pretence that “meaningful” and “constructive” talks have been ongoing on teacher pay.
EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley said, “Scotland’s teachers have responded magnificently in recent weeks, supporting ongoing strike action in their tens of thousands right across the country. On strike days, schools have closed and the streets have been ablaze with the bright green and pink EIS pay campaign colours, with teachers on the picket lines and attending demonstrations and rallies right across Scotland.
“Teachers do not want to be there, and would much rather be in class working to support young people’s education – but, having been compelled to take strike action by the inaction of the Scottish Government and COSLA on pay, Scotland’s teachers are not going to back down.”
EIS Salaries Convener Des Morris said, “Both the Scottish Government and COSLA should be ashamed that their refusal to offer teachers a fair pay settlement has led to schools being closed. Instead of negotiating positively with unions to reach a fair agreement, the Scottish Government and COSLA have dug in their heels and refused to negotiate meaningfully at all.“
All their repeated talk of ‘positive’ and ‘constructive’ discussions doesn’t reflect reality. They are attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of Scotland’s pupils, parents and teachers – but we will not be easily fooled. Support for our strike action is growing across the country, and we are seeing more and more teachers on picket lines as they grow more angered by spin from the Scottish Government and COSLA.”
EIS Vice-President Paula McEwan said, “While they claim a commitment to Fair Work and a desire to work constructively with unions, the actions of the Scottish Government and COSLA tell a different story.“
We have heard misleading comparisons to other groups of workers from the Cabinet Secretary and the First Minister, as they attempt to create divisions between school staff. We have also heard them misrepresenting the value of the offers made to other groups of workers, to try to force teachers to accept their sub-standard, sub-inflation offer.“
But we know and work with these other groups of workers in our schools every day – we know they did not accept an offer averaging 5.07%, and we know that Scotland’s teachers aren’t going to accept that either. The EIS Pay Attention campaign will most definitely continue until a genuinely fair settlement for Scotland’s teachers is won.”
Following the recent decision of EIS Executive, three consecutive days of targeted strike action will take place in Glasgow Southside, Perthshire North, Dunfermline and Clydebank & Milngavie on 22-24 February (inclusive). Schools in those four areas, plus Mid Galloway and Wigtown West will also take a further three days of targeted strike action from 7-9 March (inclusive). Members in the relevant schools have been advised that they will be eligible for full strike pay on these days of additional, targeted, strike action.
There will be two days of national strike action for all members on Tuesday 28th February and Wednesday 1 March. This will be followed by a further 20 days of rolling strike action between 13 March and 21 April 2023. Further info is available at: www.eis.org.uk/campaigns/payattention
PROTECTING THE RIGHT TO STRIKE
On Wednesday 1st February, hundreds of thousand of workers – including EIS members in Aberdeen and Clackmannanshire – joined millions of others across the UK in the biggest day of strike action for many years.
In addition to ongoing campaigns over public sector pay, this date also marked national protests against the UK Conservative government’s new anti-trade union legislation. The new proposals, which have already passed their first reading in the House of Commons, would place additional restrictions on workers’ right to take strike action – in a country that already has some of the most draconian anti-trade union legislation in Europe.
A wide range of demonstrations and events were held throughout the day. Addressing a STUC-organised rally against the new legislation, EIS President Andrene Bamford said, “In the EIS, we are taking lawful, democratic action over pay. All over Scotland, we see our members on picket lines, decked out resplendently in our pay campaign colours – and as our campaign goes on, the feeling is strengthening. We remain strike strong!”
“Trade Unionism is a human right. We must fight to hold on to it. Lives are saved every day as a result of the Health and Safety legislation that has come as a direct result of trade union campaigning. Maternity rights, paid holidays, sick pay, all of it comes from trade unions, from the collective action of our members.”
“In some parts of the world, trade unionism comes at a high price. We have a duty to our comrades across the world to hold tightly to our right to take lawful action and not allow Rishi Sunak to finish the job that Thatcher began. To disregard trade unionism is to disregard democracy. It’s to disregard workers’ lives. To disregard trade unionism is inhumane. The fight for trade unionism is the fight for humanity and human rights.”
General Secretary Andrea Bradley also addressed the rally, saying, “The UK government’s proposed bill is a spiteful, unworkable and fundamentally undemocratic attack on the rights of working people.”
“This proposed legislation has zero to do with protecting public services. It has everything to do with a right-wing government led by millionaires attacking the rights of working people to act collectively to defend their livelihoods and to protect the public services we all cherish.”
“Scotland’s teachers are learning fast in our campaign, the importance of being united. We’ve seen the Scottish Government’s disgraceful attempts to sow division between teachers and janitorial and catering staff. And the UK government is at it too: they state that, at this stage, the planned legislation is not aimed specifically at teachers, but at other essential services.”
“We don’t buy this for one minute. We’re clear: an attack on one is an attack on all.”
The EIS and its sister unions will continue to work together, through the TUC and STUC, to fight back against this attack on the rights of workers.