Salaries Convener Des Morris reported on recent meetings of the Salaries Committee, and on recent SNCT meetings.
Since the last report to Council, there had been 4 meetings of Extended Joint Chairs of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT), in addition to a number of informal side meetings with the Scottish Government and COSLA.
Mr Morris made clear, “There is no revised offer on the table – the last offer we received was the November offer – which we quickly rejected – which was itself virtually the same as the August offer that our members overwhelmingly rejected in a ballot. That offer has an in-year value of 5.07%.
”Mr Morris referenced recent reports from the Fraser of Allander Institute, STUC and Auditor General which highlighted how the Scottish Government could fund a better pay rise for teachers and other public sector workers.
The EIS remains aware of attempts by other parties to sideline the SNCT, but has consistently agreed to meetings within the SNCT to attempt to move negotiations forward.
On negotiations, Mr Morris said, “We have indicated that we are open to discussing a multi-year deal in the interests of reaching an agreement – but only if the numbers add up, and reflect our commitment to pay restoration.
”Mr Morris added, “We have also discussed potentially moving the settlement date for teacher pay from April to August, which we believe may be in the long-term interest of our members. No agreement has been reached on any of these issues.
”The figure presented by the Scottish Government and COSLA at the SNCT EJC meeting in January was, once again, for 5% – a figure that was neither an improvement nor a figure that the EIS was prepared to work with.
A Joint union statement following that meeting of the SNCT EJC made clear that unions viewed the discussions as neither positive nor constructive – despite the repeated claims to the contrary by the Scottish Government and COSLA. No further meetings of the SNCT EJC were currently planned at the time of the Council meeting (nor at the time of publication of this edition of the SEJ).
Andrew Fullwood (Glasgow) asked, “Have we suggested a 2-year deal, or are we looking towards a 2-year deal, as a possible resolution to this dispute? We also have to look ahead to the pay claim for this year – will we be setting a pay claim for the year ahead soon?”
Mr Morris responded, “No-one is going to be bounced into a settlement. If we receive an offer that we can recommend to members, we will do that. We are not going to be pressured into accepting an inferior offer, and we are not going to put clearly unacceptable offers to our members. On a 2-year pay deal, we have raised that possibility in discussions – looking back at past agreements, multi-year deals are actually the norm rather than the exception. So we are not opposed to multi-year deals, as long as the figures add up. The pay claim for the coming year will be discussed at the next Salaries Committee – this has inevitably been impacted by the lack of settlement for the current year.”
Allan Crosbie (Edinburgh), said, “At the same time that the EJC was meeting to discuss pay, the First Minister was recording an interview with Laura Kuenssberg where she made misleading statements that enraged teachers. They are using talks as a smokescreen, to make it appear as though they are negotiating – when the opposite is true. I’d also like to ask about the spectre of imposition, which we have heard whispers about, and what would happen if the Scottish Government and COSLA do opt to pursue imposition on teachers?”
Mr Morris replied, “We have called out the Scottish Government and the First Minister on these issues, and will continue to do so in the strongest of terms. Imposition has not been raised in either formal or informal discussions – and our response, should it ever be raised, would be one of outrage and disgust. I truly hope that COSLA and the Scottish Government have the good sense not to attempt to go down that route.”