Fife teacher strikes: Dunfermline schools to close for three days ahead of Kingdom wide strike dates next week

EIS members will continue their schedule of strike action after rejecting the latest pay offer.EIS members will continue their schedule of strike action after rejecting the latest pay offer.
EIS members will continue their schedule of strike action after rejecting the latest pay offer.
Schools and some nurseries in the Dunfermline area will be closed over the coming days as teachers target the constituency of education secretary Shirley Anne Somerville in the latest round of strikes over a pay dispute.

A number of primary, early years and special school settings in the west of the Kingdom will close for three days from Wednesday, February 22, with further strike action on the horizon across the whole of Fife next week.

The EIS union is specifically targeting the MSP’s patch with six planned days of strike action in the next few weeks – February 22, 23 and 24 and March 7, 8 and 9.

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In addition to the focused dates on the education secretary’s constituency, national strike action will impact all areas of Fife on February 28 and March 1.

Graeme Keir, English teacher and publicity officer for EIS Fife – the local division of the largest teaching union in Scotland – said teachers are feeling angry, and they are not taking the decision to strike lightly.

“Teachers don’t go out and strike lightly; they give it a lot of thought. Many are very anxious about the impact, but feel there is no other option,” he said.

“The campaign is about more than pay. It’s about the worsening conditions in the classroom, increasing violence in classrooms, the decrease in resources that teachers have, as well as an awareness that if we don’t improve pay, there will be no teachers coming into, or staying in, the profession.”

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He continued: “There’s a collective view that if we don’t win a decent pay award now then the future looks pretty bleak for Scottish schools.”

Fife Council has confirmed that those primary schools affected by the local action on February 22-24 and March 7-9 are: Bellyeoman, Blairhall (and associated nursery), Cairneyhill (and associated nursery); Calaiswood; Canmore; Carnegie; Carnock; Commercial; Crossford (and associated nursery); Culross; Duloch; Holy Name; Inzievar; Limekilns; Lynburn; Masterton; McLean; Milesmark; Pitreavie; Pittencrieff; Saline; St Leonard’s; St Margaret’s (and associated nursery); St Serf’s; Torryburn; Touch (and nursery); Townhill (and nursery) and Tulliallan (and nursery).

Dunfermline area nurseries associated with primary schools that will remain open on February 22-24 and March 7-9 are: Bellyeoman; Carnegie; Duloch; Inzievar; Limekilns; Lynburn; McLean; Pitreavie; Pittencrieff; Saline; St Leonard's; St Serf's and Torryburn.

Beanstalk Family Nurture Centre and Halbeath Nursery will remain open on all eight strike days.

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Fife Council confirmed that all Fife primary schools (and their nursery classes), secondary schools, special schools and primary pupil support centres will close to pupils on February 28 and March 1.

The strikes will continue after EIS unanimously rejected the latest pay offer from the Scottish Government last week.

The Scottish Government, represented by the local government body COSLA, presented a £156 million, two-year deal to the union. The offer involved a 6% pay rise for 2023 and an additional 5.5% increase from next April.

However, the union’s salaries committee unanimously rejected the proposal claiming it was “another inadequate offer to Scotland’s teachers” with CPI inflation currently sitting at 10.5%

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The decision resulted in targeted strike action in Dunfermline, with the first date scheduled for Wednesday.

Carrie Lindsay, executive director of education and children’s services, acknowledged the “significant disruption to education settings,” but announced that her team had made the “difficult decision” to close Dunfermline primary and early years schools for the entire eight days of action.

Dunfermline’s secondary schools will be closed for the national strikes on February 28 and March 1.

“I know this will be particularly challenging and inconvenient for many families,” Ms Lindsay told parents and caregivers in a letter. “I fully appreciate how difficult it is for parents, carers and pupils when we must close some, or all, of our schools and I can only continue to ask for your patience and understanding.”