Scotland’s school teachers were stepping up their campaign for a 10 percent pay claim with a national demonstration in Glasgow on 27 October. It was expected that thousands would take part.
Teachers were set to march with their school banners, demonstrating a level of grassroots organisation not seen for years.
It is easy to see why anger among teachers is growing. Pay has fallen 20 percent over the last ten years and has fallen relative to teachers’ pay in other countries in Europe. Long hours, an increasing workload and disappearing support services have contributed to the growing frustration.
There is an acute shortage of supply teachers which has seen long established cover agreements being broken. Managerialist measures have been introduced by John Swinney, the education secretary, such as cash granted to schools to try to close the attainment gap between the most and least deprived pupils. This is temporary money that does not address the fundamental issue that there are not enough teachers and they are not paid well enough.
The EIS teaching union leadership is being ultra-cautious. The latest offer from the employer side has been rejected by the salaries committee and the union will move to an indicative ballot with a recommendation to reject the offer. This means that realistically there will not be an official ballot to strike until next year. Activists can use this time to strengthen school organisation and deliver solidarity to other workers.