The executive committee of Scotland’s largest teaching union has announced it is to recommend a move towards balloting members on industrial action over pay.

A special meeting of the national EIS council will convene on Saturday to consider the next phase of the campaign for a 10% pay rise for teachers.

The decision to recommend balloting members was a unanimous one.

Education Secretary John Swinney has said an updated offer from the Government and council umbrella body Cosla is “a better deal than for any group of public sector workers in the UK”, but it was rejected by the teachers’ side of the negotiations earlier this week.

Unions claim teachers’ pay has fallen 20% in real terms in the past decade and they say a significant increase is needed to show teachers they are valued and to help boost staff recruitment and retention.

John SwinneyEducation Secretary John Swinney has urged unions to accept the latest offer (Jane Barlow/PA)

In an update to members, the EIS said: “In an attempt to agree a settlement, the teachers’ side has proposed options which would improve the offer for all teachers, but it remains to be seen if these will be taken up.

“We confirmed our willingness to meet again, as and when required.

“Members have been extremely patient over a pay claim which was due last April. Clearly, that patience has its limit.

“A special EIS council meeting has been arranged for this Saturday, January 12, to decide on the next phase of the campaign, which may well be a move to a statutory ballot for industrial action, if there is no further movement from Scottish Government and Cosla.”

Mr Swinney said the latest pay offer “would see teachers receiving a minimum 8% increase between January 2018 and April 2019”.

An earlier offer, which Mr Swinney said at the time was the “best available” and would give most teachers a rise of between 5% and 11%, was rejected by the teachers’ side of negotiations in September.

The following month, more than 20,000 people marched in Glasgow in support of the teachers’ pay demand.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The EIS executive has agreed the timeline for the opening of a strike ballot over pay.

“Our national council will now meet on Saturday to review this timeline, and to consider granting authorisation for a statutory strike ballot on pay.

“Our members have shown a great deal of patience over the past year, but this patience is now exhausted.

“While we would still welcome any improved pay offer from employers, none has yet been forthcoming. Therefore, our council will now decide whether to initiate a statutory strike ballot when it meets.”

A spokesman for Cosla said they remain in talks and added: “It is in nobody’s interest to see industrial action.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Discussions are ongoing with trade unions and employers, of which the Scottish Government is playing a full part.

“We believe that teachers deserve a fair pay rise, that is what everyone is working towards. We do not believe that industrial action is in anyone’s interests.”