As thousands of striking teachers held a rally outside the Scottish Parliament to push for an improved pay offer, EIS general secretary Andrea Bradley said they are “determined” to make their case.
Scotland’s first national teacher strike in almost 40 years took place on Thursday, with all mainland schools closing.
Scottish Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has said the 10% pay claim being sought by the unions is “unaffordable” without cuts elsewhere.
Speaking at the rally, Ms Bradley told the PA news agency: “Their anger has been inflamed by the very, very poor offer that came very late on Tuesday afternoon, which was a lazy, shoddy rehash of the offer we’ve already considered and summarily rejected in September, nearly three months ago.”
She said of the striking teachers: “There’s a buoyancy, they’re high-spirited, they feel good about the collective action they’re taking because they’re pretty determined that they are going to pursue the fair pay claim that’s been submitted on their behalf.”
She said the latest offer was a delaying tactic and more money could be made available.
Responding to the Education Secretary’s comments about the 10% pay claim, Ms Bradley said the education sector had already been “cut to the bone” and it is difficult to see where further cuts could be made.
Two more dates of strike action have been announced by the EIS on January 10 and 11 and further dates are expected to be announced on Friday.
Earlier, Ms Somerville urged teaching unions to “get back around the table” to avert more strikes.
Under the latest pay proposal, teachers earning under £40,107 would receive an increase of £1,926 per year – 6.85% for those on the lowest salaries – while those earning more would get 5%.
Speaking to Bauer Radio on Thursday morning, Ms Somerville said: “I appreciate the strength of feeling that’s within the unions, that they want to see a 10% increase, but I would point out that since 2018, Scottish Government has provided – including this year’s proposal – a 21.8% cumulative increase in teacher salaries.
“We have shown our support for teachers, we recognise the value of teachers, but they also need to recognise the context the Government is working in.
“Let’s just get round the table – rather than more strike dates being announced and a further escalation.
“Let’s see what we can do to prevent that happening and prevent any further disruption to children’s education.”
The Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association also rejected the latest pay offer.
It will stage its own strikes on December 7 and 8, and union bosses hit out at ministers and local authority chiefs.
General secretary Seamus Searson said: “The Scottish Government and Cosla have deliberately misled the teachers’ unions into believing a serious increased pay offer would be made.
“After three months what we received was a pathetic and insulting pay offer that penalised senior teachers to the benefit of a very small number of new entrants.
“This treatment only shows contempt for teachers. How they think this is a sensible offer is beyond belief.”