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Strike action possible for Orkney’s teachers

Bill Ramsey has warned of the potential for teaching strike in Orkney.

Teachers in Orkney could soon take strike action over long-running pay disputes, a representative from the Education Institute of Scotland (EIS) union has warned.

EIS vice-president Bill Ramsey, during a recent visit to the county, explained that lengthy negotiations with the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) over salaries, combined with issues such as understaffing within Support for Learning and increased workload could soon result in industrial action if they are not resolved.

This could begin with teachers refusing to complete administrative tasks before escalating to full strike action.

Asked about the potential of a teaching strike, an OIC spokesman said he was unable to confirm what plans, if any, were in place to deal with such an eventuality.

“There are three big issues at the moment,” Mr Ramsey explained.

“Teachers pay, workload and educational support needs provision. It’s interesting because, no matter where I go, these are the three predominant issues, and they are all related.”

There are around 240 EIS members in Orkney.

On Monday, EIS members voted to reject a new pay offer.

According to Mr Ramsey, the next step will be to hold a ballot on industrial action, although the union remains open to further negotiation.

“Assuming that our members decide to vote for a strike, there will be two or three weeks before that goes through,” the vice-president explained.

“We intend to continue to negotiate. We realise that teachers don’t want to strike — they do not do this lightly. We have even made a decision not to strike during the SQA exams.”