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Education / Another strike day for school teachers

An EIS picket line outside Lerwick's Anderson High School in February. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

TEACHERS in Shetland have gone on strike again today (Monday) amid no breakthrough in the national pay dispute.

Most schools in the isles are closed as members the Education Institute for Scotland (EIS) and the Association of Head Teachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS) take a stand.

EIS members protested on the picket line this morning at a number of schools including Brae and Dunrossness, and they are supported by the union’s national president Andrene Bamford.

She arrived in Shetland on Sunday and is due to leave later today.

Speaking at the picket line near the Anderson High School in Lerwick, she said the EIS was “very, very clear” in its stance on the pay dispute, with the union seeking a ten per cent pay increase for teachers.

Bamford added that she has toured around the country in recent weeks, with the feeling amongst union members strengthening as the campaign goes on.

It was evident from the number of cars beeping their horns at Lerwick’s picket line that public support in Shetland continues.

Local EIS rep Matthew Moss said it is the fourth day of action which has now taken place in Shetland.

“Despite this the Scottish Government has failed to find additional funds as they have for other key worker pay settlements and [local government association] COSLA and the Scottish Government have brought no new offer to the table for negotiation since the derisory offer of five per cent,” he said.

Shetland EIS rep Matthew Moss. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

“The 7th of February marks the 12-month anniversary of the original pay claim by teachers and we will continue to strike until meaningful negotiations with a new offer are started.

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“We have always been willing to meet with all parties, but the offer must be affordable for our members.”

All secondary schools in Shetland are closed today (Monday).

The only primaries open will be Cullivoe, Fair Isle and Skeld.

Early years/out of school clubs at Bell’s Brae, Brae, Fair Isle, Sandwick, Scalloway, Skeld, Sound and Whiteness will also be open.

Speaking after talks with the unions on Friday, Scottish education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “We have been clear that demands for a 10 per cent increase for all teachers – including the highest paid – is not affordable within the Scottish Government’s fixed budget.

“While four offers have been made to date, these have been rejected by teaching unions. Further compromise is clearly required in order to secure a fair and sustainable settlement.

“Today’s discussion were focused on progressing opportunities for compromise. There was a shared understanding that a new offer would not be made. Only COSLA  as the employer, can make a new pay offer, through the structures of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for teachers.”

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