On Wednesday, November 1, school support staff will go on strike due to the rejection of the most recent pay offer from Cosla by Scotland’s largest local government union. Unison has declared that its members will participate in the strike in Glasgow City, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, and Inverclyde. This action marks the start of an ongoing program affecting various council areas, with additional strike dates to be announced later. The labour dispute primarily involves non-teaching personnel, including catering, cleaning, pupil support, administration, and janitorial roles within schools and early years centres. The Scottish government’s response to these Challenges in Scottish Education labour actions.
Challenges in Scottish Education: Unison went on strike
In September, over 21,000 members of Unison staged a three-day strike in 1,868 schools. Unison is Scotland’s largest union in local government, dedicated to public services and representing more than 84,000 workers in educational roles within local government. The revised offer guarantees a minimum pay increase of £2,006 for individuals receiving the Scottish local government living wage and at least £1,929 for those earning above that rate.
On Wednesday, Unison issued a notice of additional strikes in their ongoing dispute over local government pay. These strikes will impact Glasgow City, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, and Inverclyde councils, affecting staff in schools and early years establishments associated with these four local authorities. The strike is scheduled for Wednesday, November 1, marking the initial phase of an ongoing series of actions planned for the coming weeks. Unison will announce more strike dates and additional councils participating in this program in due course. This move follows a resounding rejection of Cosla’s latest pay offer by the union’s represented workers, with over 21,000 individuals participating in a three-day strike in September, leading to the closure of 75% of Scotland’s schools.
What is the revised offer for Scottish Unison members?
The revised proposal ensures a minimum pay increase of £2,006 for employees receiving the Scottish local government living wage and a minimum of £1,929 for those above that wage level. Mark Ferguson, the chair of Unison’s local government committee in Scotland, has called on both Cosla and the Scottish government to adequately finance these wage hikes and commit to ensuring that local government workers receive a minimum of £15 per hour. It comes as no surprise that Unison members overwhelmingly rejected the initial pay offer, which was extended before last month’s three-day strike, garnering substantial support from the union’s members.
Unless an improved pay offer is presented, further school disruptions will likely occur. While Unison has not specified an exact figure for the desired pay offer, there are other critical areas to address in finding a resolution. One key aspect is the funding of this pay increase. The union is concerned that even with the current pay offer, without increased financial support from the Scottish government to local councils, it could lead to budget cuts, cost-saving measures, and potential job losses.
Another crucial aspect is reaching a consensus on a clear pathway toward significantly raising the wages of the lowest-paid council employees. Unison advocates a more transparent and specific plan to ensure that all council workers earn a minimum of £15 per hour. The proposed living wage of £10.85 would have increased to £11.89 under the initial deal, representing a 9.6% increment.
Unison announced that nine in 10 (89.92%) members voted to reject the deal.
When teachers go on strike, pupils are likely to be affected by school closures and disruptions to their education. If the strike lasts an extended period, children can stay caught up in their studies and need help catching up.
Lecturers and other university staff across the UK participated in five days of strike action.
In September, another strike marked the latest development in an ongoing dispute concerning pay and working conditions. The University and College Union (UCU) staged this action across numerous UK institutions, coinciding with Freshers’ Week for many first-year students. The union has indicated that the protracted conflict over pensions has been successfully resolved.
During the strike, UCU members at 34 universities participated in a continuous five-day strike, commencing on Monday, September 25 and concluding on Friday, September 29. Additionally, ten more universities saw a one-day strike. The UCU had anticipated that staff at over 140 universities would partake in these actions.
Moreover, the UCU has initiated a fresh ballot among its members to extend its six-month authorization for industrial action, set to expire at the start of October. If members vote in favour of an extension, strikes could extend into 2024. It’s noteworthy, though, that the union has decided to halt a marking and assessment boycott that had been in effect since April 20.
The four teaching unions are in a dispute with the government over pay.
The NASUWT has affirmed its commitment to advocating for improved pay, as well as addressing concerns related to excessive workloads and working hours. While no further total strikes are scheduled, this decision follows the acceptance of a 6.5% pay increase by the most significant teaching union, the National Education Union (NEU), along with the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), and NASUWT, which took place in July.
However, the NASUWT has declared that its campaign for better pay, reduced workloads, and improved working hours will persist, and it may involve various levels of industrial action. Before accepting the government’s pay offer, the union’s members had already voted in favour of both strike action and action short of a strike. As a part of their ongoing efforts, the union has instructed its members to commence working to rule, adhering strictly to their designated working hours, starting Monday, September 18.
Gap of Salaries
The median salary for a professor is about £80,000, according to analysis of Higher Education Statistics Agency figures carried out by the UCEA employers’ body. Some 25% of professor salaries are at, or below, about £70,000, the UCEA says. However, the UCU says a third of academic staff are on temporary contracts and are paid by the hour. Challenges in Scottish Education Casual staff receive holiday entitlement based only on their work hours and have inadequate paid time to prepare for their classes.
Train passengers are facing another six months of potential strikes after members of the RMT union voted for further industrial action. The dispute with rail companies has been going on for nearly 18 months, with workers calling for better job security, pay and conditions. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the vote provided a “decisive mandate”.
Everybody will feel the harmful effects of education strikes.
Studies reveal that strikes in the education sector lead to adverse outcomes regarding school performance, workforce engagement, and income levels for individuals affected by these Challenges in Scottish Education disruptions. Essentially, teachers wield a substantial impact on the future achievements of students and, consequently, on the economic prosperity of the nation.
These findings underscore the significance of recognizing the vital role teachers play and the necessity of providing them with commensurate compensation. From a policymaker’s perspective, offering teachers a more competitive salary aligns with economic logic, as it can serve as a proactive measure to deter industrial