Scotland

EIS members vote for teachers strike over pensions

Scottish schools are facing their first strike in almost 25 years, after the country's largest teaching union backed a day of action.

EIS members voted overwhelmingly for the move, saying their patience had been exhausted by a pay freeze, budget cuts and proposed changes to pensions.

Education Secretary Mike Russell said striking was "not in the best interest of pupils or parents".

More than 82% of EIS members voted to strike on a 54% turnout.

Members of the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland also voted for a day of strike action, but have yet to name a date.

The EIS strike is expected to be rubber stamped by the union's executive meeting and is likely to take place on 30 November, when many other public sector unions are also taking part in a day of action over pensions.

The EIS balloted its members over UK government proposals to increase pension contributions while reducing the amount teachers will receive in retirement.

Changes to public sector pensions were largely inspired by Lord Hutton's independent inquiry, which concluded most employees should work longer and pay more for their pensions.

The Scottish and UK government have clashed on the issue.

In September the UK Treasury denied accusations by the first minister Alex Salmond that it had "threatened" the Scottish government over increases in public sector pension contributions.

Union leaders said concessions mooted by the UK government earlier this week were not concrete enough as yet to prevent industrial action.

EIS general secretary Ronnie Smith, said: "This 82% vote for strike action is the strongest indication so far that the patience of teachers and lecturers has been exhausted.

"Faced with a wide ranging attack on their pensions, on top of a two-year pay freeze, rampant inflation and education budget cuts, our members are signalling that 'enough is enough'.

"Teachers and lecturers are highly committed professionals who do not decide lightly to strike - it is more than two decades since the last national strike action. However, the pensions 'triple whammy' of being compelled to pay more, work longer and get less has to be challenged."

Mr Smith said teachers wanted to see further progress from the government on pensions and "concrete proposals" specific to schemes in Scotland.

He said the EIS would continue to work to secure a fair settlement for members.

Mr Russell, said: "It is with regret that I hear the results of the EIS ballot on industrial action.

"While I agree with their campaign in response to the UK government proposals for public sector pensions, I don't agree with their method, strike action is not in the best interests of pupils or parents."

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