East Ayrshire teachers lobbied outside of the the council headquarters in Kilmarnock today as a dispute over pay continued

Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) union began 16 days of rolling strike action last Monday, with teachers in two of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas walking out each day until February 6.

Unions have rejected a pay offer which would see most teachers receive a five per cent wage rise, although the lowest earners would get an increase of 6.85 per cent.

Today it was the turn of East Ayrshire teachers, as secondary schools and primary schools across the area were closed to pupils.

Teachers were out as the EIS sought a 10 per cent pay rise.

Scotland’s Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has previously said that the 10 per cent teachers are demanding is unaffordable.

EIS East Ayrshire Local Association Secretary Nicola Dasgupta said that the action taken today is not what teachers want to be doing, but the current economic crisis means that the action is necessary.

Cumnock Chronicle: Teachers on strike in Kilmarnock (Image: EIS)Teachers on strike in Kilmarnock (Image: EIS) (Image: EIS)

She said: “Of course, we're disappointed not to be in classrooms teaching today and at a picket line or rally instead, but teachers in East Ayrshire EIS are steadfast in their support of the 10 per cent pay claim.

"The cost of living continues to soar, teachers are affected like all other workers. We are struggling to pay heating bills, fuel prices are exorbitant and there is no end in sight. Our wages have fallen in real terms by 26 per cent since 2008.

"It's time the Scottish Government made real on their promise that education matters and public sector workers are genuinely valued.”

Cumnock Chronicle: South Scotland MSP Carol Mochan joined the action (Image: EIS)South Scotland MSP Carol Mochan joined the action (Image: EIS) (Image: EIS)

Ayrshire MSP Sharon Dowey said that action could have been entirely avoidable.

She said: “Considering the lack of urgency in the Scottish Government to resolve the pay dispute with the teachers’ unions, it’s disappointing, yet unsurprising, that schools are shut in East Ayrshire today.

“Ultimately, it’s young people in East Ayrshire who are paying the price for the SNP government’s inaction today. Considering January is an anxious period for secondary pupils who are in the midst of their prelims, it’s not fair on them to face the brunt of school closures."

Cumnock Chronicle: Teachers want a 10% which is not currently being offered (Image: EIS)Teachers want a 10% which is not currently being offered (Image: EIS) (Image: EIS)

Commenting following Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) talks with teaching unions and COSLA last week, Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “We held further constructive talks with teaching unions and COSLA. Dialogue remains focused on potential areas for compromise in bringing this dispute to an end – rather than tabling a new offer at this time.

“The Scottish Government values the hard work that our teaching workforce puts in for our learners and we remain absolutely committed to ensuring they receive a fair pay deal.

“Strikes in our schools are in no one’s interest – including for pupils, parents and carers who have already had to deal with significant disruption over the past three years. I continue to urge teaching unions to reconsider current industrial action while talks are ongoing.

“We hope that these discussions will continue to progress towards a compromise to ensure a sustainable deal for all involved.”