Sunday 14 July 2024
 12.3°C   NNE Fresh Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Education / Teachers take picket line to town hall as strike continues

A picket line was formed outside Lerwick Town Hall on Wednesday. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

AROUND 30 members of the local branch of the EIS teachers’ union gathered outside Lerwick Town Hall today (Wednesday) in an attempt to remind Shetland Islands Council (SIC) that it can have a role to play in bringing the long-running dispute over pay to an end.

Shetland EIS convener Matthew Moss said: “We ask council officers and elected members to apply what pressure they can on COSLA (of which SIC is a member) to stop bypassing the appropriate and agreed collective bargaining procedures for teachers pay.”

However, the chair of the council’s education and families committee, councillor Davie Sandison, said while he would like to see the dispute resolved sooner rather than later, there was little he could do.

“Local councillors and local authorities individually have no role to play in the process and the proper procedure for dealing with pay disputes. It is not something we have any influence over,” he said.

“However, that is not to say that at every opportunity we would encourage every party that has a role to play to actively get around the negotiating table and use the proper procedures that are in place to resolve the dispute.”

EIS Shetland vice convener Irvine Tait: ‘we are willing to discuss a serious offer’. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

A recent revised offer of six per cent more pay for teachers backdated to April last year, as well as an offer of 5.5 per cent for the coming financial year was rejected by the EIS union, partly because it was not made through the prescribed negotiating route. Further talks are taking place today.

Most schools in Shetland have been closed yesterday and today due to strike action. The EIS has meanwhile announced more strike dates for March.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


Moss said: “COSLA and the Scottish Government need to negotiate in good faith through the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) and not through leaks to the press and media soundbites.

“They have always had the ability and the means to end this dispute but have deliberately dragged-out negotiations for over a year and brought us to this point when we must act for our members and for the good of Scottish education.”

Local EIS vice convener Irvine Tait added that the support for teachers striking was still strong.

“An Ipsos poll recently showed that 49 per cent of people back teachers, 33 per cent didn’t and the rest were undecided, so I think there is an understanding amongst many parents and the population that the cost of living crisis is biting. It affects teachers like anybody else,” he said.

The history teacher said the pay issue was part of the attempt to tackle more fundamental problems with retention and recruitment in education. 

Anderson High teacher Valeska Pearson with Gretchen and Otto at the town hall on Wednesday. Photo: Shetland News

“We have problems with retention and recruitment, and sorting out pay will contribute to try to deal with that issue because it is not in the interest of parents and pupils to have a situation where we can’t retain good people, and where we can’t recruit people. That is in nobody’s interest,” he said.

And, he added, teachers were willing to compromise.

“It is about negotiation and compromise. There is space between six percent, which we rejected, and ten percent which is our opening position,” he said.

“So, there is space between six and ten percent, and what we want is a significantly improved offer that probably will fall within that range. 

“It is up to the Scottish Government and CoSLA to come to the table with that offer so that we can put it to our members and get this resolved, and get back to work which is what we all want to do.

“So, it is about negotiation and compromise. I can’t say what the final figure will be, but we are willing to discuss a serious offer, and what we are not going to do is to sell out and betray out members.”

Moss meanwhile said the union “fully understands that school closures are having an impact on pupils and parents but we ask people to understand that not only have teachers been let badly down by both the Scottish Government and COSLA but so have pupils and parents”.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.