|30,000 teachers, parents, teachers and supporters on Scottish education on Saturday brought Glasgow to a standstill to demand the Scottish government and local authorities must value education and teachers.
The EIS national march and rally assembled in Kelvingrove Park before marching to George Square. The demonstration was so large that it took longer than two hours from the march off to clear from Kelvingrove Park, with the front of the demo reaching George Square more than an hour before the end of the line arrived. The march stretched for well over 2.5 miles from end to end.
There was a carnival atmosphere as the colourful procession made its way through the some of the city’s most famous streets, with a wide variety of banners and placards on display and some highly creative chants and songs to be heard. The overall message was abundantly clear – it is time for government to properly value education and value teachers.
EIS president Alison Thornton said: “Nine years of pay settlements under the public sector pay cap have resulted in the value of our take home pay being down by nearly 25%. The salaries of teachers in schools in Scotland are below the European average and those of other countries in the wider world.
“Our pupil contact hours are high, and we still work an average of 11 hours of unpaid overtime each week to deal with the demands of the job. No wonder teacher recruitment and retention is in a crisis situation. Austerity doesn’t work, quality public services need proper funding and by investing in teachers then there is investment in education and our young people and their futures.”
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said, “It is absolutely magnificent, to look out on this massive demonstration and know that we are here, united, because we believe that the future of Scottish education is worth standing up and fighting for. Look at the magnificent array of EIS and school banners from across the country, and the banners, also, of other public sector trade unions whose members, like teachers, have been under the cosh of austerity for the past decade.
“Those who want to split the unions – think again, public sector trade union solidarity is a given. Our pay claim is for 10% – given that the value of take-home pay has dropped by 24% in the last decade, that claim is already a compromise on what we deserve.
“And here is the simple fact – if you want to have qualified teachers in front of pupils in our schools, you need to address the recruitment and retention crisis we are facing. 10% doesn’t even take us up to the OECD average for teacher pay; Scotland and Scotland’s teachers deserve better.”