Richard Leonard says austerity measures are being imposed upon councils and schools in Scotland, after teachers rejected the latest pay offer from the Scottish Government.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, the Scottish Labour leader read out a letter from a teacher which asked why those in the profession were having to purchase school supplies for pupils out of their own pocket.
On Tuesday, members of The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) and Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA) overwhelmingly rejected an offer of a headline 3% rise on teachers’ pay, with bigger increases for staff on lower grades.
The unions had called for a 10% rise after years of pay restraint.
Mr Leonard said: “This government has not only failed to stop Tory austerity, it has added to it and then imposed it on local councils and schools.
“The First Minister wants to be judged by her record on education, so let’s examine that record – it’s a record of austerity, which even SNP councillors now admit is going too far.
“It is a record of our teachers themselves having to buy pens, pencils, books for pupils because Scotland’s schools are starved of cash.
“How can education be your top priority with underfunded schools and undervalued teachers?”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Teachers are not undervalued, we highly value the work that teachers do and of course, we will continue to negotiate in good faith with teachers for a fair pay increase, just as we successfully did with nurseries and other healthcare workers, and of course with our police officers.
“As well as the real-term increases in local council budgets, delivered by the finance secretary (Derek Mackay) in the last budget, we’ve seen spending on schools by local authorities increase in each of the last three years.
“We’ve also seen the pupil equity fund, which is delivering increased resources to schools.
“So we will continue to take the appropriate steps, make the appropriate decisions to support our teachers on the frontline, just as we do our nurses and other public sector workers.”