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Teachers Pay Agreement (Implications for Public Sector Pay Policy)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 5th June 2019.

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Photo of Tavish Scott Tavish Scott Liberal Democrat

5. To ask the Scottish Government what the implications are for its public sector pay policy of the agreement reached with the teaching profession. (S5O-03328)

Photo of Kate Forbes Kate Forbes Scottish National Party

The public sector pay policy sets a framework for pay negotiations, and balances delivery of a fair deal for employees with affordability and investment in high-quality public services. The policy acts as a benchmark against which employers have the flexibility to deliver pay awards that meet local circumstances.

The pay award for teachers includes an element that is targeted at addressing recruitment and retention issues, as well as a wider package of measures to address workload issues and support the empowering schools agenda.

Photo of Tavish Scott Tavish Scott Liberal Democrat

As the minister will be aware, exactly the same circumstances apply to Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd with regard to the pending air traffic controllers strike, which has been suspended for next Wednesday but is still threatened for the future. Will she bring the same flexibility to those pay negotiations? Of course, ministers directly intervened in the teachers’ strike. We could do with some intervention in the ATC strike, too, because lifeline air services depend on those people.

Photo of Kate Forbes Kate Forbes Scottish National Party

As Tavish Scott does, I recognise that it has, with the disruption, been a difficult time for travellers. I welcome the suspension of the industrial action that had been scheduled for 12 June, and I encourage HIAL’s air traffic controllers to consider carefully HIAL’s latest offer of a new retention allowance.

I also go back to my earlier answer and reiterate that the pay policy is a guide and benchmark. In that sense, delivering a pay package is a matter for negotiation between employers and employees.

Photo of Murdo Fraser Murdo Fraser Conservative

Does the Scottish Government still have a public sector pay policy that is worth the paper that it is printed on? From the latest deals that have been struck, it does not sound as though it does.

Photo of Kate Forbes Kate Forbes Scottish National Party

We do, indeed, have a pay policy that ensures affordability of and investment in high-quality public services. However, as I have said, the policy acts as a benchmark against which employers have the flexibility to deliver pay awards that meet their local circumstances. We reflect on the impact of all sectoral awards in developing pay policies, and we will do so again in time for next year’s pay policy, in the context of the spending review.

Photo of Neil Findlay Neil Findlay Labour

I commend the Educational Institute of Scotland for securing a deal for its members, but I note that when the Scottish Government gave some prison officers a pay upgrade while leaving others floundering, it was taken to court by the Public and Commercial Services Union and caved in. In the same vein, the Government is treating some council workers one way and others another way. What has happened to the pay policy, and what is happening to fairness?

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

For a moment, I thought that we were drifting away from the subject of teaching, but the question is about the public sector pay policy.

Photo of Kate Forbes Kate Forbes Scottish National Party

Again, I reiterate that the pay policy does not apply directly to all workforces. Instead, it acts as a benchmark for pay awards in other sectors, and sets the tone for the wider public sector to increase labour participation and productivity, which will ensure that work pays for the individual and the Scottish economy. Key sectors including local government, the health service, the police and the fire service have all delivered arrangements that are broadly in line with our public sector pay policy.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Question 6 has been withdrawn, and questions 7 and 8 have been grouped together.