Scottish teachers at St Anne’s Primary striking on Monday (Picture @EISUnion on Twitter)

Primary schools closed across the whole of Scotland on Tuesday as thousands of teachers walked out in a battle over pay.

At an Additional Support Needs school in Glasgow, one EIS union member told Socialist Worker, “We want what we’re due. We’re striking for everyone. When you’ve not had a pay increase, you’re seeing your standard of living drop, not just for yourself but for your kids as well.”

John, a drama teacher, said, “I’m going to retire soon but I’m out today for the next generation. They’re totally done for if we don’t get rid of these Tories.

“Most of the staff in our school are women who’ve worked here for years, as teachers, support staff or cleaners. The country is in shambles and it’s these people who are paying for it. I’m out on strike for them.”

The strikes involve mainly members of the EIS, but also the NASUWT, SSTA and Association of Headteachers and Deputes unions.

There is a wider crisis in Scottish education. Recent school census data confirmed that pupil numbers have risen while there has been an overall decrease in the number of teachers employed across Scotland. And there has been a particularly large decline in the number of primary teachers. Such figures underline the need for higher pay to recruit and retain workers.

The unions have all rejected a 5 percent pay increase. There should have been a pay deal in April, but the Scottish government and the local authorities have hardly shifted at all since the first proposed settlement was thrown out.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) government likes to claim it is the friend of workers, but it wants teachers to accept another massive pay cut. The offer in December was for just 5.07 percent—and didn’t include the extra day’s holiday or payment of professional body fees that the other settlement did.

Further strikes are set for Scottish secondary schools on Wednesday. Then there are 16 days of strikes with, on each day, two local authority areas taking action.

But this is only the most meagre follow up to this week’s action. Whenever they have been called out, teachers have responded with total support and enthusiastic pickets. But union leaders need to build on that.

Instead, there was no attempt this week to hold the mass rallies that were such a positive feature of last November’s strikes. And the fragmented 16 days of action won’t give a sense of national revolt.

The strategy in Scotland is even more important as hundreds of thousands of teachers in England and Wales await the results of strike ballots. The NASUWT vote closed on Monday this week and the NEU union one closes on Friday.

To win the initial claim of a 10 percent rise—let alone to beat inflation—teachers must demand longer and escalating strikes across Scotland. 

For details of forthcoming strikes go here

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