Teachers in Cumbria and Southern Scotland walk out over pay dispute

Teachers took to the pocket line in Stranraer to call for an improved pay offer. Credit: ITV Border

Teachers in Cumbria and Southern Scotland have staged a walk out today in an ongoing row over pay.

In Cumbria, members of the National Education Union have held picket lines calling on the UK government to improve its pay offer to educators across England.

North of the border, members of the Education Institute of Scotland (EIS) also held a rally in Stranraer, saying the Scottish Government's current proposals represent a 'real-terms pay cut'.

EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley said, “This two-day national strike action is a further clear signal that Scotland’s teachers are not prepared to accept the deep real-terms pay cut that is being offered to them.

"Support for the ongoing programme of strike action remains very strong, with a growing number of teachers out on picket lines with each day of action. Indeed, the EIS processed a significant number of new membership applications in the run up to today’s action, as more teachers expressed their desire to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their colleagues on EIS picket lines this week.”

Shirley-Anne Somerville, Scotland's Education Secretary, has insisted that the demands of teaching unions are unaffordable. She said: “We have now had five offers that have been put on the table to trade unions and we have of course seen two of the trade unions accepting the final offer.

"That last offer was for an 11.5% increase in April and more importantly, I think over the period of 2018, a 30% cumulative rise in teacher salaries. So I think this was a very fair, very affordable offer.”

Meanwhile demonstrators in Cumbria have called on the UK government to revise their offer to teachers. Louise Atkinson, National Education Union said: "The offer that was made for this year’s pay for teachers was well below inflation, that still means a real-terms pay cut within our pay packet.

"Crucially, it comes out of existing school budgets. So that’s taking away from the pens and the paper and all of those things we need to that provide the education for the children and young people that we support. "

UK Education Secretary Gillian Keegan MP says the strikes are "very disappointing", adding: "Children and teachers are trying very hard to catch up with the impact of the pandemic.

"Every day out of school is going to make that harder. We offered those serious talks and I would urge the NEU to pause those strikes, come around the negotiating table and let's start those serious discussions."

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