Why Scottish Teachers Marched for Pay

On Saturday the 27th of October, Scottish teachers took to the streets of Glasgow, calling for  a 10% pay rise, here’s why.

The event was organised by Scotland’s largest teaching union, the Educational Institute of Scotland who said the value of teachers’ pay has fallen by more than a fifth over the past decade. The march started in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park before the march to George Square where union leaders and politicians addressed crowds. It took two hours for all the demonstrators to clear the park and join the march, with much larger turnout than expected. Almost 30,000 people took part in the rally, including 60 teachers from our own school.

One member of the EIS provided The Oystercatcher with this statement.

“Austerity measures have meant that Teachers’ pay has declined in the last 10  years.  Sub-inflation pay rises combined with increases to pensions, National Insurance and GTCS fees have led to cuts of around 24% in teachers’ take-home pay.  In this time, workload has soared with the introduction of CfE, the new National Qualifications and various other policies (National Improvement Framework, Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce etc). Workload and stress have soared and teacher recruitment is facing a crisis.

In the last 2 years, over 1200 teachers below the age of 40 have left the profession (these are teachers who are fully qualified and have been teaching for a number of years) and teacher training places at universities are unfilled. This is because graduates know they can earn more money in different jobs and in teaching in other countries.  Last year, there were approximately 800 unfilled teaching posts in Scotland.  Some councils are struggling to offer certain subject to pupils as they cannot get qualified teachers for those subjects.  According to OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) statistics, teachers in Scotland work longer hours and more days than their counterparts in other OECD countries.

Although improving pay will not fix all the recruitment problems facing Scottish schools, it has to be the first step in making teaching an attractive profession.  The OECD average for teacher pay is £42000.   Teachers in Scotland (through their biggest union, the EIS, and the other teaching unions) are asking for a 10% pay award this year.  This would bring Scottish teachers’ pay up to around £40,000.  This is our compromise.  We are not asking for the 24% we have lost over the last 10 years and 10% doesn’t even take us up to the OECD average for teacher pay.

This is why over 30,000 people marched through Glasgow on 27th October – to ask the Scottish Government and Cosla (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) to “Value Education: Value Teachers”.  This is why teachers are currently being balloted on a pay offer that we consider divisive and derisory.  Without Teachers, there are no doctors, nurses, police, accountants.  It is time to demonstrate that Scotland values education by valuing the work that teachers do.”

Education secretary, John Swiney spoke to the Herald, saying:

“I hugely value the work teachers do and the vital contribution they make to improve outcomes for children.

“We want teaching to be a rewarding career choice – to keep people in the profession and to attract new entrants – and that is why the Scottish Government is contributing an additional £35 million this year for teachers pay.

“Through a combination of a 3% increase for all staff earning up to £80,000, restructuring the main grade scale and annual progression, the majority of teachers receive a rise between 5% and 11%. There would be a flat rate increase of £1,600 for those earning more than £80,000 from 1 April 2018.”

A Scottish government representative spoke to the BBC, regarding its joint pay offer letter with Cosla.

“The letter in no way undermines the democratic role of the teaching unions in this process nor changes our joint commitment to continue discussions with teaching unions in good faith”

While the governemnt believe the letter “accurately explains” the pay offer, teachers clearly disagree. The general secretary of the EIS, Larry Flanagan, believes the letter to be misleading.

“While the basic figures included in the letter are accurate, they have been laid out in a way that is profoundly misleading. The table indicating salary rises for teachers on the main grade scale creates a false impression of the proposed new salaries for teachers. The Scottish government and Cosla have let themselves down in seeking to interfere in the EIS ballot in this manner. It is against the spirit of the Fair Work Convention, which both claim to champion, and adds nothing to the factual information which the EIS has already communicated in full to its members.”


  • by Erin Seils, Editor of Science and World
  • Sources: BBC News, The Herald, EIS

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