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Saturday, January 28, 2023

FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon slams ‘staggering’ hypocrisy of Tories over teacher strikes

NICOLA Sturgeon has branded the Tories “hypocrites” over their attacks on the Scottish Government’s handling of teacher strikes while similar action in England “looms”.

During First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Stephen Kerr criticised the Scottish Government for presiding over the first teacher strikes in Scotland for some 40 years.

The Tory MSP accused Education Secretary Shirley Anne-Somerville of showing no energy or urgency to resolve the dispute over pay and conditions which has seen teachers opt to strike in every single council area in Scotland.

Kerr said: “Last week, the First Minister was talking about how Humza Yousaf said something about how there hadn’t been any strikes because she thinks he’s so brilliant.

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“And then contrast in education we have Shirley-Anne Somerville and the first teacher strike in 40 years. Chaos for hundreds of thousands of parents and carers and pupils.

“The Cabinet Secretary shows no energy, no urgency to get involved and to resolve the teachers’ strike.”

Kerr said that was not just his view, but the view of the teaching Unions.

He continued: “The first minister used to say that education was our top priority. Will she step in and end the strike?”

Sturgeon replied: “As teacher strikes loom in England the hypocrisy of the Tories is absolutely staggering.”

The response prompted jeers from the Tory benches while SNP MSPs were seen clapping in the chamber.

Sturgeon continued: “Shirley-Anne Somerville will continue to do everything possible to reach an agreement with Cosla and our teaching unions to deliver fair pay increase for teachers.

“Over the past few years teachers have already had a 21% pay increase demonstrating the value we attach to what they do.”

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Sturgeon said teachers in Scotland enjoyed the highest pay compared to any UK nation and added that the Scottish Government will continue to negotiate a “fair” pay deal.

“The hypocrisy really is staggering because Stephen Kerr talks about the efforts Shirley-Anne Somerville is making and she’s making strenuous effort while the Tory education secretary in England, just in the last few days, said this: ‘That we didn’t negotiate pay with teaching unions because that is not what we are here to do.’

“So in Scotland, the demand that the Education Secretary resolves it in England.

“Of course, the Tories simply wash their hands and dig their heels in because they don’t value public sector workers. They want to take away the right to strike off public sector workers. This government does value all of our public sector workers.”

The Scottish Parliament had to be suspended two time on Thursday after energy campaigners and an anti-gender reform protester started shouting from the public gallery.

The live feed was cut for a few minutes just after FMQs had finished.

One protester, who shouted during a point of order, accused Nicola Sturgeon of not “consulting women” and claimed she does not allow women to speak.

The protestor shouted that “most women in Scotland are opposed to rapists and paedophiles”.

The woman was removed from the chamber and could be heard accusing security of “manhandling” her. 

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