NICOLA Sturgeon has urged teachers to compromise and end the strikes that have closed schools across Scotland.

On Monday, members of the EIS – the largest teaching union in the country - walked out of classrooms in Glasgow and East Lothian.

READ MORE: Scottish school strikes: Schools shut as teachers walk out over pay

It was the first day of a rolling 16-day programme of strike action. Schools in Perth and Kinross and North Ayrshire are set to close tomorrow.

Last week the EIS announced another 22 dates, taking them through to April. 

READ MORE: EIS announce 22 more days of school strike action

Today, the head of the union told colleagues at a rally in George Square, that they would strike in May when senior pupils sit their exams, and could if necessary continue the action after the summer holidays.

Speaking at a press briefing, Ms Sturgeon said she was "concerned" about the industrial action "because I don’t want to see that impact on young people and I don’t want to see teachers having to take industrial action.”

But she added that her administration was “not a Government that simply digs our heels in in industrial disputes.”


The First Minister said: “We are a Government that seeks to find resolutions to disputes, a Government that tries to treat public sector workers as fairly as we possibly can, to maximise pay increases within the resources we have got, and to avoid industrial action.”

She insisted ministers were ready and willing for further talks with teachers’ leaders but added: “As we also see in the NHS, it does involve compromise on both sides. I hope we will see that compromise on both sides.”

Speaking at a rally at Glasgow’s City Chambers, Andrea Bradley, EIS general secretary, issued a stark warning to the government. She said: “If the action were to be ongoing towards the exams, then that would be a matter of deep concern to all, to Cosla and the Scottish Government, which says education is its number one priority.

“We would hope that this dispute is brought to a much swifter resolution than that but that’s not to say that if there isn’t a resolution, that our members will not be prepared to take action beyond that.

“The mandate [from EIS members for strike action] lasts until May and it may be that we have to ballot members once more for another mandate for strike action into the new academic session – but we hope it won’t come to that.”

READ MORE: Scottish school strikes — Full list of dates and closures 

Talks last Thursday ended in failure. 

Unions are seeking a 10 per cent rise, but the Scottish Government and Scotland's 32 councils are offering around half that, with most teachers getting 5% and only the lowest earners getting an increase of 6.85%.

Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Stephen Kerr said there was a "lack of urgency" from the government.

He said: “This new wave of strikes, now extending beyond the Easter holidays, will be deeply distressing and damaging for pupils.

“And yet the SNP education secretary makes no attempt to find a solution. The EIS are right to highlight her lack of urgency, given that she entered the latest talks with nothing fresh to offer the unions. Shirley-Anne Somerville’s lack of effort to end this dispute is staggering.

“It is high time the Government got back around the negotiating table, especially with the external exam season fast approaching."