Thousands of teachers from across Scotland are expected to march in Glasgow today to demand a rise in their salary and working conditions.
The rally, organised by Scotland’s largest teaching union, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) will begin in Kelvingrove Park and finish at George Square.
The EIS has been calling for teachers to be given a 10% rise to restore the value of salaries following public sector pay caps.
A pay offer which would have seen all teachers get a rise of 3% was rejected last month and was described as “divisive”, with issues raised over the parity of pay.
Education secretary John Swinney argued the offer would result in all teachers on the main grade scale receiving at least a 5% increase, with some teachers receiving up to 11% in one year in conjunction with annual progression.
EIS president Alison Thornton said: “All indications are that many thousands of teachers, together with other supporters of Scottish education, will be travelling from the length and breadth of Scotland in support of the campaign.
“It is shaping up to be a massive show of support for the Value Education, Value Teachers campaign and will send a clear message to the Scottish Government and local authorities that they cannot continue to undervalue Scotland’s teachers.”
Mr Swinney said: “I hugely value the work teachers do and the vital contribution they make to improve outcomes for children.
“We want teaching to be a rewarding career choice – to keep people in the profession and to attract new entrants – and that is why the Scottish Government is contributing an additional £35 million this year for teachers pay.
“Through a combination of a 3% increase for all staff earning up to £80,000, restructuring the main grade scale and annual progression, the majority of teachers receive a rise between 5% and 11%. There would be a flat rate increase of £1,600 for those earning more than £80,000 from 1 April 2018.”
The Education Secretary added that reference to conditions of service forming part of the negotiations “is factually incorrect”.
He said: “Our offer to teachers is for one year, and compares favourably with the pay award for the majority of health workers of 9% over three years and the recently announced award 6.5% increase for Police Officers covering 31 months.
“I firmly believe this is a generous and fair offer which demonstrates the value both the Scottish Government and local government place on the teaching profession.
“We remain committed to continuing discussions with teaching unions in good faith.”
Larry Flanagan, the union’s general secretary, added: “Teachers are growing increasingly angry at the way they have been treated by their local authority employers and by the Scottish Government over the past decade.
“Teacher numbers have been cut, workload has soared, and take-home pay has been slashed by around 24% in real terms. This national demonstration is a sign that teachers are not prepared to sit back and take it any more.”
Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard said: “It is to the SNP’s shame that our schools have seen their budgets cut by £400 million and teachers’ pay has been allowed to fall back so much.
“John Swinney should focus on the real issues in our schools and put a pay deal on the table that shows education is his number one priority.”
Scottish Greens education spokesman Ross Greer MSP said: “The Scottish Government’s response to this recruitment crisis so far has been to promote fast-track schemes.
“This approach has caused no shortage of problems in England and it does not tackle the cause of the problem – budget cuts, overwhelming workload and a massive decline in pay.”
A spokesman for local government body Cosla also said: “Following a vote, Council Leaders took the decision to jointly, with the Scottish Government, write to teachers spelling out the value and merits of the pay offer currently on the table.
“This joint letter will be written with input and advice from the appropriate professional associations within councils.”