Teachers across Scotland will hold a second day of strike action this week in a dispute over pay.
NASUWT Scotland and the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA) have downed tools over what they say was a “divisive and inadequate” pay offer.
Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) members working in schools went on strike last week, closing the majority of schools across Scotland.
Most secondary schools affected are partially closed this week, with many asking senior pupils to attend as normal.
The SSTA says the Scottish Government has failed to make contact since November 22 to avert further strikes this week.
The Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers offered a 5% pay award which was “unanimously rejected” by teaching unions.
Seumas Searson, general secretary of the SSTA, said: “Members are taking part in the strike this week to send a hard message to the employer and Scottish Government that teachers demand to be respected and receive a professional salary that will act to retain teachers in Scottish schools.
“The latest offer was quickly rejected by the teacher unions and was deliberately divisive and inadequate. This apparent show of contempt to teachers by this offer has hardened the resolve of members and forced the SSTA to take the strongest form of action.
“For many SSTA members this will be the first strike they will have taken part in, and this action will have caused a great deal of anxiety not only for themselves but for the pupils they teach.
“The SSTA can only apologise to the pupils and their parents who are stuck in the middle of a dispute that should have been resolved months ago. Teachers do not want to be taking strike action as they would rather be in school teaching.”
The NASUWT is calling for 12% pay increase in 2022/23 and say a typical teacher in Scotland is almost £50,000 worse off as a result of pay failing to keep pace with inflation since 2010, a loss which will be further compounded by the below-inflation pay offer.
Action short of strike will also begin from Friday with teachers refusing to cover for absent colleagues and attending no more than one meeting per week outside pupil sessions.
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said: “This is first time members in Scotland have taken national strike action in over a decade.
“The fact it has come to this is a reflection of the depth of anger and frustration they feel at being continually told by ministers and Cosla that there is no more money to increase their pay, while their workloads spiral and the expectations on them mount.
“They are sick of warm words telling them how much they are valued, while their pay dwindles each year in real terms.”
The union warned it could not rule out further action in the months to come if employers fail to deliver a fair and decent award.
Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has said that the strike is in “no-one’s interest” and the Scottish Government remains committed to finding a fair settlement for Scottish teachers.
She added: “It is very disappointing that the teaching unions have rejected the latest offer, the fourth which has been put to unions, which mirrors the deal accepted by other local government workers.
“The request for a 10% increase for all teachers – even the highest paid – is not affordable within the Scottish Government’s fixed budget.
“While councils are responsible for managing the impact of industrial action, I expect schools to remain open wherever possible, so that disruption can be minimised. Any closures would follow risk assessments made in individual areas.”
The EIS union has announced 16 more dates for strike action next year.