Some Scottish teachers are willing to vote for a strike if employers don’t meet their pay demands, according to a new survey.
The questionnaire by the National Association of School Teachers/Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) found that the majority of respondents oppose the current pay offer.
They say the most recent offer from employers – a 1.22% rise proposed by employers earlier this month – is unfair and will be a blow to teachers’ morale.
Teachers called the offer insulting and disappointing. In light of the difficulties caused by the pandemic, some said they are feeling “undervalued and underpaid.”
And of the 713 teachers who took the survey, almost three-quarters said they would vote for a strike if it meant a better pay deal.
‘Improve pay offer or risk further action’
The statement from the NASUWT comes off the back of a recent poll. Between October 1-12, 713 teachers in Scotland responded to the NASUWT’s poll about the most recent pay offer.
…no option is being discounted by the union to obtain a fair pay award for teachers.”
-NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach
The vast majority – 85% of those polled – oppose the pay offer. But some took it a step further, with 82% saying they believe it is unfair in the current circumstances.
A further 78% said that the 1.22% offer will have a negative impact on their morale.
And survey results suggest that a strike, while not currently in the works, isn’t out of the question. According to survey results:
- 86% would be willing to take some form of industrial action in response to the current pay offer
- 74% would be willing to vote for strike action to get a better pay deal
Following the reactions from teachers in the survey, the NASUWT indicated that they would still prefer to achieve a resolution through negotiation.
Union keeping all options on the table
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said the poll illustrates the anger and frustration teachers are feeling.
“NASUWT members have been clear that they are willing to take further action on pay and we have put the Cabinet Secretary and employers on notice that no option is being discounted by the Union to obtain a fair pay award for teachers.
“At a time when more and more is being asked of the profession, the Scottish Government and employers need to come back to the table with an improved offer which represents real progress towards pay restoration for all teachers.”
Scottish teachers voice their pay concerns
Teachers who responded to the NASUWT made their concerns clear. Many referenced the ways in which their jobs changed during the pandemic, including having to adjust to new SQA exam policies and Covid-19 protocols in schools.
One worried if they’ll ever see ‘normal’ again.
“The workload has vastly escalated during the pandemic. It is unlikely that terms and conditions will revert to pre-pandemic times. This pay-rise is an insult.”
Others latched onto the fact that the 1.22% offer doesn’t account for inflation.
“This is not a pay rise but a pay cut in real terms.”
“It’s just so disappointing to think how far behind in pay terms we are. The cost of living is rising and we are being left behind. Undervalued and underpaid for what we are expected to achieve.”
‘Very, very little savings’
Others put their personal economic math in starker terms.
One said: “My electric and gas have gone up by £46.95 (5%) per month and my food bill by 12% since January so we are going to struggle.”
Another added: “I’m already struggling to pay bills.
“I rarely go out, don’t go on holiday, have a very basic mobile phone, no gym memberships or Sky packages. Very, very little savings.”
What’s the state of negotiations?
The NASUWT is just one of the unions that makes up the Teachers’ Side of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers. This three-part body also consists of representatives from the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.
Earlier this month, four of Scotland’s largest teachers’ unions, including the NASUWT, declared a formal dispute over the most recent offer.
The unions stopped short of calling for a strike. Members explained that there are a number of other forms of action available. Check the timeline below to see how we reached this point, and read our full story on the history of the current pay negotiations.
On the back of the survey, the NASUWT sent a letter to COSLA and education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville. In it, they asked the Scottish Government and COSLA to take note of teachers’ concerns and pressed for further negotiations.
A spokesman from COSLA said: “We remain in constructive negotiations, talks continue.”
A spokesman from the government said that the Cabinet Secretary would respond to the NASUWT’s letter “in due course.”
He added: “Discussions within the SNCT are ongoing and we will continue to play our part in that process. We hope a resolution can be found as soon as possible.”