A pay dis­pute that re­quires a fresh ap­proach

The Herald on Sunday - - TALK BACK -

THE on­go­ing dis­pute over teach­ers’ pay is serv­ing no­body well, least of all the pupils who de­pend on the ser­vice and the par­ents whose taxes fund the schools.

Like many in­dus­trial re­la­tions rows, the dis­agree­ment comes down the money. The unions, with some jus­ti­fi­ca­tion, ar­gue that salaries for teach­ers have fallen back to un­ac­cept­able lev­els as a re­sult of aus­ter­ity.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment and Cosla, the coun­cil rep­re­sen­ta­tive body, are mind­ful of other staff groups who will get a lot less than 10 per cent. A 3% of­fer is on the ta­ble.

How­ever, Cosla and Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary John Swin­ney have also promised to re­work the main pay grad­ing scale for teach­ers, a move that will add an­other bump to salaries.

A di­rect let­ter from Swin­ney and Cosla to teach­ers, which in­fu­ri­ated the unions, claims that the of­fer would give some teach­ers more than 10%. The EIS is highly crit­i­cal of the of­fer and strike ac­tion looms.

But the Gov­ern­ment and Cosla should stand their ground. One of the rea­sons for the im­passe is the hos­til­ity of the unions to a dif­fer­en­ti­ated deal – they want ev­ery teacher, re­gard­less of in­come, to get a 10% rise.

As the EIS lim­bers up for strike ac­tion, the union should also con­sider the op­tics of how its pay claim looks to the tax­payer. Very few, in the pri­vate or pub­lic sec­tor, could dream of a 10% rise. It is un­likely the pub­lic will be­lieve teach­ers have been so uniquely dis­ad­van­taged that this deal is mer­ited.

The unions should make a re­vised claim to Gov­ern­ment and take in­dus­trial ac­tion off the ta­ble. A fresh ap­proach may even be wel­comed.

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