Teachers are being offered a derisory pay increase which is nothing short of a substantial pay cut
By James Halfpenny, of the EIS in West Dunbartonshire
Since 2008 there has been a real terms drop in the value of teachers’ salaries of at least 20%
On a 71% turnout, 96% of our members in the EIS have voted for strike action in pursuit of a 10% wage claim. This will come as no surprise after an insulting 5% offer from COSLA.
Scotland’s teachers have worked themselves into the ground over the past two years, often at great cost to their physical and mental health, to seek to ensure a continuing high-quality education for Scotland’s young people amidst the Covid pandemic.
Our members have gone the extra mile, and they deserve to be appropriately remunerated for their efforts.
Workload remains excessive while more and more is demanded with fewer and fewer resources. In response, teachers are offered a derisory pay increase which is nothing short of a substantial pay cut. This cannot be allowed to continue.
The National Council of the EIS has clearly indicated its lack of faith in our employers’ ability to negotiate fairly.
Cosla has deliberately dragged out pay negotiations as they try to weaken any industrial action response by EIS members. This will not succeed.
Such a public sector pay strategy festers worker discontent and cements the realisation that strike action is the only way of getting a decent pay offer.
Professions in which men have traditionally made up the majority of the workforce tend to pay better than traditionally women-dominated jobs. The undervaluing of teachers overall, is linked to the fact that the vast majority are women and work that is done by a majority workforce of women has typically been less well paid than that done by men.
Our 10% claim will have the effect of raising teachers’ pay to be closer to the pay of men-dominated graduate professions and address the historical wrong of women being paid less for doing work of equal value.
Teachers’ pay needs to attract the best graduates to allow schools to provide quality education, alleviate the effects of poverty and give every young person a good and equal chance to thrive. Teachers’ pay needs to add up, if it is to help boost teacher numbers.
The latest government inflation figures from the ONS show that in the last year, retail prices (RPI) have risen, on average, by 12.3%.
However, teachers, like the rest of the working class, don’t live in a world of average inflation. Families are being impoverished by the rise in gas prices (95.7%), electricity (54%), petrol and diesel (114%) and basic food stuffs (over 20%).
The demand by the EIS for a 10% wage increase, which initially seemed modest, is now looking like a pay cut.
While teachers and other frontline workers did essential work throughout the pandemic the rich and privileged were making huge profits at our expense.
- Centrica, the owner of British Gas, announced 2022 half-year profits are up 500% to £1.3 billion.
- BP’s half-year profits in 2022 are £11.9 billion, up from £5.4 billion in 2021.
- Shell’s half-year profits in 2022 are £17.3 billion, up from £8.7 billion in 2021
The so-called mini-budget was an orgy of unbridled redistribution of wealth from the working class and poorest to the already obscenely wealthy.
Without doubt, Britain’s capitalist class is united on its need to make the working class pay for this crisis.
EIS President, Andrene Bamford said, “The cost of living crisis was created by unscrupulous and greedy capitalists. We did not cause it, and we will not pay for it. A wage increase that does not rise with inflation is a pay cut. It’s as simple as that. We will not pay for the cost of living crisis with a pay cut.”
There is no doubt that the Scottish Government and local councils intend to continue carrying out the Tory Party’s programme of vicious cuts and attacks on working people and their families.
All of this has raised the prospect of national coordinated strike action across all sectors against the cost-of-living squeeze and the corrupt and crisis-ridden Tory government.
It would be a serious mistake on the part of COSLA and the Scottish Government if they fail to understand that teachers in Scotland will not shrink from defending themselves and Scottish education. Let them be clear…teachers are preparing for industrial action.