Where do the parties stand?
If EIS members get 10 per cent, why should it be lower for those in the GMB, Unite and Unison?
Cosla’s position on “parity” – which roughly means staff groups receiving the same inflation pay increase – is noteworthy in this respect. Swinney could solve one problem by offering a 10 per cent rise to teachers, but in the process trigger strike action by the other unions which would want the same for their members.
Sturgeon herself raised this point on Thursday by saying that “all public-sector workers have suffered because of years of pay restraint”.
Consider the range of staff who work in schools as part of the wider “teaching family”. If Swinney agreed to a 10 per cent rise for teachers, heads on £70,000 would get a £7,000 boost. By contrast, the lower-paid classroom assistants, cleaners and school technicians would get three per cent in one year. It would be a tough sell for any Government that claims to believe in fairness.
As Finance Secretary between 200716, Swinney had a knack for producing creative solutions to a range of problems involving local government. He will need to be politically nimble if he is to solve the puzzle of the teacher pay dispute.
Point 0 (probationer) Point 1
Point 6 Headteachers and deputy heads
Can earn between and Pay rises for teachers are a matter for the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers, not Holyrood, but opposition parties can apply pressure on the Government.
The Scottish Greens have been most vocal in backing the unions’ demands for a 10 per cent rise and party co-convener Patrick Harvie has brought the issue to the chamber on more than one occasion.
Raising the result on the consultative ballot last week, in which nearly 98 per cent of teachers who took part rejected a three per cent deal, he said: “None of us needs a maths teacher to help us to understand those numbers. “Can the First Minister recall a more overwhelming democratic mandate from any section of the Scottish workforce?”
Labour has also been supportive of the call for a restorative pay award. MSP Iain Gray, a former teacher, was highly critical of the Government’s decision to write to teachers directly over the three per cent offer.
He also compared the SNP Government to previous Tory administrations, saying: “The last time Scotland’s teachers were angry enough to go on strike Margaret Thatcher was still prime minister, I was a school teacher, the First Minister was a school pupil and some of the 98 per cent of current teachers who have just rejected the pay offer were not even born.” The Conservatives, who have backed pay restraint at a UK Government level, have not supported a 10 per cent rise. The Liberal Democrats described the ballot result as an “extraordinary and brutal rebuke” to Swinney and have called for a “fair deal” and an independent expert review.
Swinney could solve one problem by offering a 10% rise to teachers, but in the process trigger strike action by the other unions which would want the same for their members