24 November – Teacher Strike

The latest pay offer has been rejected by EIS and AHDS and the strike planned for Thursday 24 November will go ahead. SSTA members and members of other unions or none are unable to participate in the strike action and must attend their normal place of work. To not attend their place of work the local authorities will deem the teacher is taking strike action and deduct the salary for that day.

The SSTA has been in contact with local authorities to reaffirm that SNCT Handbook Conditions of Service remains in place for those teachers not taking striking action. Unfortunately, some local authorities still believe they have the power to set aside the SNCT Handbook. SSTA will be challenging this misunderstanding in the coming weeks.

Unfortunately, there are inconsistent instructions being issued to schools that is causing confusion to teachers not participating in strike action. As a consequence, SSTA is advising members to work normally and follow the instruction issued by the Headteacher on the day of strike action. This includes

  1. report to your normal place of work, unless you have been asked to do otherwise
  2. to avoid issues at a later stage, ascertain on the day from your line manager (or if they are unavailable, the next person in line) that you are no longer required for any in-school tasks before considering signing out (see below*)
  3. undertake only the work you would normally do on the day; this does not include teaching remotely (which was a temporary pandemic adjustment)
  4. only teach the children that you would normally teach and not any child that would be taught by a colleague who is taking strike action
  5. do not accept any changes to timetables

Industrial Action by Other Teacher Unions

It is unlawful for any member of the SSTA to take industrial action where the SSTA has not given a specific notice to the employer advising that action will be taken.

Where members of another STUC-affiliated trade union are involved in industrial action, SSTA members should:

  • report for work as normal; and
  • not accept any variation to their contracted duties and/or undertake the timetabled or other responsibilities of those involved in the strike.

Should the decision be taken to close the school, staff not involved in strike action must report to work or remain at home as directed by the headteacher.

SSTA members should not suffer any salary deduction if the school closes.

The SSTA is aware that some employers are contending that they are entitled to suspend the terms of the Handbook of Conditions in relation to “Time and Place” (T&P) on a day when pupils are not in school because of industrial action by teaching unions. The Association rejects this view and advises members as follows.

For those staff available for work there is no reason why National Conditions of Service should not continue to apply.  This includes the provision in Part 2 Section 3 - SNCT Handbook  ‘3.10 All tasks which do not require the teacher to be on the school premises can be carried out at a time and place of the teacher’s choosing: teachers will notify the appropriate manager of their intention in this respect.’ 

This National Condition of Service is not subject to suspension at the whim of the employer. The SSTA has informed employers of this misunderstanding.  *A COSLA spokesperson has offered us this response, which aligns entirely with our advice to members:
While respecting the provision in the SNCT Handbook it is clear that the employer has to be satisfied that the worker is reporting for work and there for eligible to be paid normally rather than being considered to be on strike.

Having taken legal advice, it is our view that Section 3.10 of the SNCT Handbook is the exception, not the rule. Teachers will have to attend on the school premises to work. If it transpires that some or all of the tasks allocated to them “do not require the teacher to be on the school premises” then (and only then) does 3.10 apply.

For that reason, there will not be a universal approach applied.  It will depend.”

Picket Lines

Where a union taking strike action establishes a picket line, refusal to cross it would render a teacher who is not a member of a union taking strike action liable to disciplinary action, including the deduction of salary, as it would be considered as participating in unlawful industrial action.

The single exception to this is where there are genuine grounds to believe that crossing the picket line would put the person concerned at risk of injury.

In these circumstances, SSTA members should contact the headteacher, an appropriate senior person in the school or an appropriate person in the employing authority, if the headteacher is not available. They should also contact SSTA Head Office to advise them of what has taken place and to seek further advice or support.

Members are asked to stop and listen and offer support to any case made and those undertaking strike action. Members are advised to cross the picket line having assured those picketing that they will not undertake work those on strike would normally have carried out.

Further advice can be obtained from the SSTA Head Office.