The proposed COSLA pay offer has now been agreed. The agreed offer, for most workers, is the same one put forward by COSLA in May:
- for those earning less than £35,000 a year, an increase of £350, based on a 37 hour week
- for those earning over £35,000 a year, an increase of 1%.
Craft workers will get a £350 increase and a 1% increase on their contractual payments.
The May offer was accepted by Unite and GMB after a ballot, but rejected by UNISON. Their consequent ballot for industrial action did not meet the 50% turnout threshold imposed under the Tories’ brutal Trade Union Act 2016 despite the majority voting in favour of industrial action.
This increase is a long way off improving conditions for public sector employees, but we must remember that it could have been worse if workers didn’t negotiate beyond the offers previously brought to the table:
- Original offer: a £250 increase for workers earning less than £25,000 and 1% for those earning above
- February 2017: a £300 increase for workers earning less than £30,000 and 1% for those earning above.
The improved offer was only achieved by trade union negotiations and the resistance and campaigning of their members.
There is still no agreement on a pay award for teachers. Teachers in Scotland haven’t received a meaningful pay rise since 2003, while the pressure on teachers continues to rise with increased class sizes, 4,000 jobs cut in the last ten years, reams of paper work and stresses related to crumbling PPP schools.
Professor David Bell points out in the McCormac Review of teacher employment in Scotland that
Relative to median pay settlements in the wider UK economy, teachers received lower pay increases for six out of ten years over 2003-2012. Like public sector workers, teachers’ pay settlements declined to zero in 2011 and 2012 while the median pay increase for private sector employees was 2.5% in both years.
The real weekly wages of teachers in Scotland declined from around £583 to £597 in 2003 to around £525 to £546 (depending on which measure of inflationis used) per week by the start of 2012, reducing the value of the 2001 agreement.
Compared to 2003 teachers in 2012 were 6.5% (CPI) and 12% (RPI) worse off in terms of their real wages.
Recently, the Department for Education decided to keep teachers’ pay in England and Wales capped at a 1% increase. This injustice fails those that educate and care for children, and consequently fail the children themselves.
We should stand in solidarity with teachers to support them in getting a fair deal for the vital work they do.
Read more about teacher’s pay on BBC Scotland.