Teachers prepared to take industrial action to secure fair pay increase - union
A union has threatened industrial action in schools unless teachers' pay is substantially improved this year.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) warned that a below inflation pay rise would be "unacceptable" ahead of negotiations with the Scottish Government and councils.
The Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) will decide the 2018/19 pay settlement for Scotland's teachers, with the EIS calling for pay to be "restored to pre-austerity levels".
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has committed to lifting the 1% public sector pay cap and providing for a 3% pay rise for NHS staff, police, teachers and others earning up to £30,000 and 2% for those earning more than £30,000.
However the union, which represents more than 80% of Scotland's teachers, said the 2% offer was not good enough.
General secretary Larry Flanagan said: "The EIS will enter into this year's SNCT discussions in good faith, and we will hope that a fair agreement can be reached quickly through negotiation. We are very clear, however, that the Finance Secretary's 2% 'offer' will not be acceptable to Scotland's teachers.
"We go into these discussions with a very clear objective - to achieve a meaningful pay award that will start the process of returning teachers' pay to pre-austerity levels.
"We hope to achieve this through negotiation, but stand fully prepared to take all options - including industrial action - to ensure that teachers receive the fair pay increase that they deserve."
Mr Flanagan said austerity and cuts to teachers' pay were "political decisions" that had had "serious consequences" for Scottish education.
He added: "The clear message that teachers wish their employers and the Scottish Government to hear is that 'enough is enough' and that the era of real-terms pay cuts must end.
"For far too long, teachers have been paying the price of austerity-driven cuts prompted by a financial situation that was not of their making. This has led to a decade-long decline in teachers' pay with serious implications for teacher recruitment, retention and for education provision across the country."
A spokesman for council body Cosla said: "We look forward to the discussions in relation to teachers' pay starting in early January. As employers we endeavour to ensure that the pay deals we reach within all our bargaining groups are fair and also sustainable."
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Scottish Government is working with employers and unions, through the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers, to improve pay and conditions.
"We have already taken action to reduce workload and have agreed a backdated 1% pay rise from April and a further 1% uplift from January until the end of March 2018 - backed by an additional £24 million in the draft budget.
"And the education reforms being implemented by this government will create new opportunities for teachers to develop their careers. We will also, alongside employers and unions, take part in a strategic review of pay and reward?."
Labour's education spokesman Iain Gray said: "Scottish pupils face a year of chaos and disruption unless the SNP government delivers improved teacher pay and workload this year. What our schools really need are enough teachers with enough time, support and resources to do their job; with a career structure to properly recognise their efforts.
"That means a significant improvement in pay, career structure and workload, properly funded by government to re-establish the Scottish profession as world leading. Failure to act will see SNP ministers reap what they have sown over ten years of incompetence in education and neglect of teachers. But it is pupils who will pay the price."