Pay Dispute – Another Wasted Opportunity

Following the latest meeting of the SNCT Extended Joint Chairs meeting on Thursday evening to discuss a possible solution to the 2022-2023 pay dispute

Seamus Searson, SSTA General Secretary said

“The Scottish Government and COSLA have again failed to put an improved pay offer on the table and have blocked the path towards further negotiations. Despite a range of meetings in the last week with the Cabinet Secretary plus two ‘negotiating’ meetings of the Extended Joint Chairs no new offer has been made”.

“This meeting was another wasted opportunity to bring the dispute to an end and prevent further strike action. The approach to negotiation with the trade unions is causing more disruption to pupils’ learning and giving unnecessary worry to parents. It is time the Scottish Government and COSLA took responsibility for the position and tried to resolve this pay dispute”.

“It is evident that COSLA and the Scottish Government are refusing to listen to the view of the Teachers’ Side and are happy for teacher strikes that began in November and December to extend into January and to allow further strikes to take place in the coming months”.

Catherine Nicol, SSTA President said

“The SSTA are insisting that only a suitable pay offer that will encourage teachers to remain in the profession will be acceptable. This would attract the highest quality graduates and ensure we sustain the high-quality education system we have in Scotland: a system that is respected across Europe. However, the current lack of negotiations shows a level of disrespect to the profession”.

“The SSTA Executive has no option but to look at taking strike action and other measures to get the message across.  We are not just fighting for a fair salary increase but for the future of education in Scotland”.

5% is not Enough!
Papers-and-classroom

SSTA Members' Bulletin - 16 December 2022

SNCT Teachers’ Pay Claim 2022-2023

The Scottish Government sought a meeting of the SNCT Extended Joint Chairs, and the meeting took place on Wednesday 14 December. COSLA confirmed that it had no additional funds to increase the pay offer and the only source of additional funding would be from the Scottish Government. Following a lengthy engagement, it was agreed further talks would be necessary to find a solution to the 2022 pay dispute. The SNCT Teachers’ Side confirmed the teacher unions resolve to get a fair and reasonable pay offer for their members.

SSTA Industrial Action

The SSTA National Executive has confirmed its support for the planned national strike action in Secondary Schools on Wednesday 11 January. The SSTA will be joined by colleagues from other unions in a united front to encourage the Scottish Government to resolve our pay dispute. Trade union colleagues in primary schools will be taking national action in primary schools on Tuesday 10 January. The SSTA National Executive has also committed to a third day of strike action with the date to be confirmed in January. The teacher unions are working together to co-ordinate the planned industrial action to give the maximum impact for our pay campaign and show the employers and the Scottish Government that a suitable pay offer needs to be found.

Maternity Survey

The STUC is supporting Maternity Action in working on a cost-of-living project, to find out more about the devastating impact of the reduction in income they experience when mothers undertake a period of maternity leave, particularly in the current financial crisis.

Members who have been on maternity leave since January 2021 are encouraged to complete the survey about the financial impact on you and your family as the cost-of-living crisis bites deeper. Your feedback will support Maternity Action's work campaigning for better maternity pay and benefits for pregnant women, new mothers, and their families.

Take the survey here https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/KMBQSCL

Tax Review

A 51-year-old SSTA member in South Lanarkshire recently secured a refund of £1,177.14 following a tax review. The review, provided by leading PAYE tax specialists, The Tax Refund Company, identified the errors that caused the employer to deduct too much tax and helped to get money back from HMRC.

Hundreds of members have taken advantage of this service and gone on to request a full tax review. 65% have found they were owed money back from HMRC. The average tax refund is £178 each, but some members have received over £2,550 back! There is no charge for this review. If you have paid the correct amount of tax, the review is free. If the review concludes you have paid too much tax, The Tax Refund Company will correspond with HMRC to try and recover your money. Where they are successful, there is a fee of £38 for amounts up to £100 or 38p per £1 where the amount recovered is over £100.

To take advantage of this service, please go to www.sstatax.co.uk You will find out within a few minutes if you might have paid too much tax and if so, you will be able to register for a full review.

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SSTA Announces Strike Action on Wednesday 11 January 2023

Following the successful strike action taken by SSTA members on 7 and 8 December the SSTA National Executive has announced the next step of the teachers’ pay campaign. A further day of strike action will take place on Wednesday 11 January 2023.
 
Catherine Nicol SSTA President said
 
“The Executive Committee would like to thank all of the SSTA members that took strike action this week. You were willing to come out in freezing conditions and this showed the strength of feeling there is against acceptance of the current pay offer.  Scottish secondary school teachers answered the call and stood together to fight for a fair and reasonable pay deal. SSTA members have sent a clear message to the Scottish Government and COSLA. Pay teachers properly: not just for now but for the future”.
 
“If the Scottish Government values its teachers it must be prepared to act and negotiate sensibly. We must have a pay offer that we can take to our members. If not, the SSTA is prepared to take strike action to obtain a fair deal and further our cause”.
 
Seamus Searson SSTA General Secretary
 
“The strikes this week have been an outstanding success with most secondary schools either been closed or severely disrupted by the action of SSTA members. I take my hat off to SSTA members, they have shown their resolve and determination to get a deal done. This can be seen by the videos and pictures of SSTA members taking strike action”.
 
“The SSTA strike will join with other teacher unions on Wednesday 11 January in a united front to send a clear message that the teacher unions are not for turning. Three years ago, the Deputy First Minister when Cabinet Secretary for Education, promised the teacher unions that teachers pay must be settled on time and without the prolonged procrastination orchestrated by the employers (COSLA). This pay increase should have been in teacher wage packets in April this year: but we still await payment. The SSTA calls on the DFM to be true to his word and settle this pay dispute now”
 
“Further strike action days in furtherance of the dispute are being considered by the Executive Committee and will be announced in the coming days”

5% is not Enough!

strike action word or concept represented by wooden letter tiles

SSTA STRIKE ACTION TO GO AHEAD

The SSTA National Executive Committee urges all members to take part in the strike this week to send a hard message to the employer and Scottish Government that teachers demand to be respected and receive a professional salary that will act to retain teachers in Scottish schools. The rejected offer was deliberately divisive and inadequate so that has forced the SSTA to take the strongest form of action. For many SSTA members this will be the first strike they will have taken part in and this action will have caused a great deal of anxiety not only for themselves but the pupils they teach. Please be assured this is a just campaign and one on which all Scottish teacher unions are united.

The employers (COSLA) and the Scottish Government has failed to make contact with the SSTA since 22 November to avert the strikes taking place this week. The SSTA strikes have had continuous coverage in the press due to the confusion it is causing local authorities in trying to keep schools open. The situation is constantly changing, and our strike action is having an impact. The number of local authorities who are intending to close most schools is increasing. Hopefully, the employers and the Scottish Government will understand that all teacher unions are united in seeking a fair and reasonable pay settlement and action is needed soon.

SSTA members are encouraged to join with NASUWT colleagues and form a picket at all school gates. Details are included in our guidance on picketing. Please post photographs on the SSTA social media (Facebook and Twitter) and encourage members to share. It has been confirmed that EIS will be supporting our pickets on the day and will not undertake the work of those colleagues participating in strike action despite threats from the employers.


Strike by Postal Workers

Materials have been posted to all schools to be used on strike days and there is a concern that there may be a delay in arriving in schools.  Please look out for the large grey envelope. Should the materials not arrive in time we would encourage members to make their own. Posters, blank SSTA templates and armbands are available on the SSTA Website.
 

STUC ‘Scotland Demands Better’ Rally - Thursday 8 December
 
SSTA Members on strike on Thursday 8 December are encouraged to support the STUC ‘Scotland Demands Better’ Rally at Scottish Parliament at 11.00am. Further information on the rally can be found at www.scotland-demands-better.com
 
Bring Your Banners!
 

Additional FAQs - Members have sought further information in last few days and additional FAQs have been added below.
 
Q27. Do I need to leave work for my classes on the day of the strike?
No. SSTA members are on strike and are not required to set work.
 
Q28. Do I need to inform the police or my employer that a picket is taking place at my school?
No. The SSTA has informed the police that SSTA members will form a picket at all schools on the day of the strike. The SSTA has informed the employer as required by the legislation.
 
Q29. Are any pregnant members exempt from taking strike action?
Exemptions can be granted in exceptional circumstances, for example pregnant teachers whose maternity pay might be negatively affected by taking strike action, i.e. if date of action falls within their qualification period for calculation of future maternity pay. This period can be identified using this online calculator: https://www.gov.uk/maternity-paternity-pay-leave/
 
Please contact Info@ssta.org.uk if strike action falls within your qualification period or you need further help with identifying whether you require an exemption to be made.
 
Q30. My employer has told me I am exempt from taking strike action because…?
Some local authorities have contacted SSTA stating that certain categories of staff and workplaces are exempt from taking strike action. Only the SSTA will authorise exemptions for members from strike action.

Any member who feels they may need an exemption are asked to make contact with SSTA Head Office at info@ssta.org.uk
 
Please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for further information.

For those members working in the independent sector, please note that this post is for information purposes only.  See FAQs Question 25

5% Is Not Enough

SSTA Rejects Pathetic and Insulting Pay Offer

The SSTA Salaries and Conditions of Service Committee met yesterday evening and unanimously rejected the pathetic and insulting pay offer from COSLA (teachers’ employers).

Seamus Searson, SSTA General Secretary:

“The Scottish Government and COSLA have deliberately misled the teacher unions into believing a serious increased pay offer would be made. After three months what we received was a pathetic and insulting pay offer that penalised senior teachers to the benefit of a very small number of new entrants. This treatment only shows contempt for teachers. How they think this is a sensible offer is beyond belief”

“A misleading statement by Scottish Government that falsely twists statistics to try and give the impression that this is a serious and substantial pay offer only compounds the feeling of contempt. For the vast majority of teachers there is no new offer. SSTA members have no option but to continue with planned strike action on 7 and 8 December”.

Paul Cochrane, SSTA Salaries and Working Conditions Committee Convener:

“It is evident that COSLA and the Scottish Government have refused to listen to the view of the Teachers’ Side that any offer should be undifferentiated and reflective of the current economic situation faced by a workforce that stood tall during the critical period of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

“COSLA’s behaviour has illustrated that, by dint of delay and late postponement of timetabled meetings, it has never been serious about settling with teachers. The tripartite consensus has been deliberately sabotaged and used as a stick to frustrate and punish teachers”.

5% is not Enough!

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.

SSTA Two Strike Days Announced

The SSTA National Executive Committee has authorised 2 days of targeted strike action on Wednesday 7 December and Thursday 8 December in pursuit of a fair and just pay settlement for 2022. 

Catherine Nicol, SSTA President said
“The Executive Committee felt it had no option but to move to strike action due to the failure of the employers (COSLA) and the Scottish Government to make an improved pay offer. The last pay offer was made on the 19 August and was quickly rejected by the teacher unions. Despite a series of engagements not even one more penny has been put on the table”.

“Teachers have had enough of fine words and are being forced to take strike action to achieve an improved pay award. I hope the Scottish Government will step up and help to avoid teacher strikes that nobody wants”.

Seamus Searson, SSTA General Secretary said
“This common practice of waiting to the last minute to reach a pay agreement shows a complete lack of respect for teachers as this pay award should have been paid in April. Teachers pay has fallen in real terms by 25% over the years and the failure to act promptly only adds to teachers’ frustration”. 

“The SSTA strike action will take place over two days and is intended to send a clear message to COSLA and Scottish Government that teachers are serious about fair pay deal”

The list of local authorities and the days that strike action will take place are: 

Wednesday 7 December 2022

  • Argyll and Bute
  • Dumfries and Galloway
  • East Ayrshire
  • East Dunbartonshire
  • East Renfrewshire
  • Eilean Siar
  • Glasgow, City of 
  • Highland
  • Inverclyde
  • North Ayrshire
  • North Lanarkshire
  • Orkney
  • Renfrewshire
  • Shetland
  • South Ayrshire
  • South Lanarkshire
  • West Dunbartonshire

Thursday 8 December 2022

  • Aberdeen, City of 
  • Angus
  • Aberdeenshire
  • Clackmannanshire
  • Dundee City
  • Edinburgh, City of
  • East Lothian
  • Falkirk
  • Fife
  • Midlothian
  • Moray
  • Perth and Kinross
  • Scottish Borders
  • Stirling
  • West Lothian
Ballot Results

Statutory Ballot on Strike Action - Result

The SSTA postal ballot for strike action closed today and we have received the result from the independent scrutineer.

90% of SSTA members have voted to take strike action with a ballot turnout of 62%. The ballot passed the statutory requirements of a postal ballot and gives the SSTA the legal mandate to take part in legal industrial action.

The SSTA National Executive will meet later this week to confirm the date of strike action and will be considering a strike in the week beginning the 5 December. The SSTA is required by law to give at least 14 days’ notice of industrial action.

Please Note: The SSTA will be issuing advice to all members regarding strike action in schools planned to take place on Thursday 24 November later this week.

Seamus Searson
SSTA General Secretary

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Pay Campaign Update

The SSTA Strike Ballot closing date is coming fast. Please get your ballot paper in the post as soon as possible.

Ballot closes 16 November 2022. Every last vote is important!

Meeting with the DFM and Cabinet Secretary for Education – 10 November 2022

The SNCT Teachers’ Side were invited to a meeting with the DFM and Cabinet Secretary for Education at the Scottish Parliament on 10 November 2022. All six teacher unions/associations were represented together with representatives from COSLA (employers) and a large number of Scottish Government Officials. This meeting was not replacing the normal SNCT Extended Joint Chairs negotiating mechanism but an attempt to help to resolve the pay dispute.

The DFM and Cabinet Secretary explained the dire financial situation the Scottish Government found itself (including the impact of the ‘mess’ made in London a few weeks ago). COSLA followed in behind on a similar line. There was a clear wish to avoid strike action.
 
The teacher side maintained its position that only an improved undifferentiated pay offer would move the situation forward. Teachers were angry with the delay in resolving the 2022 pay claim and the feeling of being undervalued for their commitment over the last number of years. It was also highlighted that teachers are preparing to take strike action.
 
Eventually, the unions were told if an improved offer were to be made there would have to be consequences to the service including a reduction in headcount. Teacher side didn’t respond to these remarks other than they understood what was being said.
 
The meeting closed with the Scottish Government and COSLA wanting to carry on talks to prevent any potential strike action.

 
Industrial Action 

Trade unions are unable to take industrial action until 14 days have passed from the date of the closing of the ballot. SSTA delayed the start of the balloting process to avoid the October break and give a three-week voting period to ensure a good return in the postal balloting process. The SNCT teacher unions have been working closely on the pay campaign and were all kept appraised of the position of each of unions/associations. The SSTA position has been for unions to work closely and coordinate industrial action to have the maximum impact as part of the pay campaign. However ultimately, each union has its own internal mechanisms in how to operate and is able to make its own decisions.
 
It has been announced that EIS is taking the first step of its industrial action with a one-day strike on Thursday 24 November. I also believe AHDS (primary schools) are intending to take strike action on the same following a successful ballot that met the required thresholds.
 
The SSTA and NASUWT are unable to join the strike on 24 November as our outstanding ballots will not have closed in time to give the required 14 days’ notice. Further advice to members will be issued next week. The SSTA National Executive will meet next week following the close of the SSTA ballot to consider our next steps. The SSTA will attempt to work with other trade unions in a coordinated pay campaign.
 
Unfortunately, the SLS failed in its ballot by not meeting the first threshold of a 50% return with only a 38% return and is unable to take industrial action without conducting a fresh postal ballot. This highlights the importance of getting all members to return their ballot papers.

StrikeBallotOct22

Message from the General Secretary

STRIKE BALLOT PAPERS ARE COMING
 

The SSTA strike ballot paper will be arriving at your home from Wednesday 26 October and I would like to encourage you to return your vote as soon as possible.
 
This ballot must be conducted by post and votes not returned will be deemed to be a no vote. To meet the legal threshold more than 50% of members need to vote and more than 40% of the total membership (not just those who voted) need to have voted to take strike action.
 
The SSTA together with other teacher unions are conducting official strike ballots to apply pressure to the employers (COSLA) and the Scottish Government to negotiate and reach a fair and just pay settlement.
 
With inflation moving beyond 10% the employers offer of 5% must be seen as a pay cut and must be challenged. A successful ballot will show the employers that teachers are not being taken for granted any longer. Teachers pay and teacher workload are the biggest issues for Scottish teachers today and without sufficient teachers workload is only going to get worse.
 
The SSTA is determined to achieve professional salaries for all teachers. This campaign is the next step in restoring salaries that have been seriously eroded over the last ten years and most importantly a measure to retain teachers for the future. The call for Restoration, Retention and Recruitment is as true today as it has ever been.
 
Your vote is important, so please make it count and get your vote in the post.

SSTA is encouraging all members to vote YES in the ballot

5% is NOT Enough