It has been revealed by union leaders that the Scottish Government had the power to intervene to stop the first national strike by the nations teachers since the ones in the 1980s.
The country’s biggest teaching union, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), has begun the process to ballot its members later this month over the changes to pensions enforced by the government.
Work longer before they retire
The union have stated that the changes will make the lives even more difficult for hard-pressed teachers in Scotland, by forcing them to contribute more to their pensions and providing them with less when they retire many will have no option but to work longer before they can retire.
The government in the United Kingdom has final say on matters concerned with pension reform however, any changes to across the border to the North would need the Scottish Governments support and it will have to be funded by the Scottish Public Pensions Agency.
The assistant secretary of the EIS, Drew Morrice, has said that unlike other parts of the public sector, the Scottish Government could have affected the matter of the amount of pension contributions teachers would have to pay.
“The Scottish Government does have discretion – they could simply choose not to change the regulations, but what’s clear is that the Treasury will demand the money comes from somewhere. The only thing the Scottish Government could do to prevent a strike is not put in place these planned increases [to pension contributions].”
Scottish teachers in favour of action
During the summer EIS held an AGM and during this teachers had agreed in favour of industrial action. Teachers in the UK have already gone on strike in protest of the same changes.
“What teachers expect from the Scottish Government is for them to be straight and tell them whether there is any possibility they will take a different tack from Westminster. They need to put their money where their mouth is” said Ken Macintosh, Labour education spokesman.