School strikes look set to go ahead as planned in most of the country next week, despite two of the three trade unions involved in pay talks urging members to accept a new pay deal from councils.
GMB and Unite have both suspended the industrial action, due to start on Tuesday, to allow the latest offer to be put to the vote.
While Unison will also ballot members, they will push ahead with the three-day walkout.
They are the country’s largest union, and have a mandate for strike action in 24 local authorities.
On Friday morning, they even warned that without an improved offer more strike action was likely.
READ MORE: Unison warns of further school strikes
Cosla, the umbrella body for Scotland's councils, said their "best and final” offer represented a minimum wage increase of £2,006 for those on the Scottish Government’s living wage and a minimum increase of £1,929 for workers who are earning above the living wage.
Both Unite and the GMB described this as a significant improvement on previous offers.
However, Unison said it was "far too little, too late."
In an astonishing development, Unite attacked Unison for holding out, describing the decision to push on with next week’s action as “bizarre.”
They even recommended members cross the picket lines and work rather than lose out on wages.
In an email to members in East Dunbartonshire, obtained by The Herald's education writer, James McEnaney, Unite said members should attend work next week.
It continued: “Unfortunately our colleagues in Unison have taken the bizarre decision to continue with the strike action while balloting their members.
“This pre-supposes that their members will follow their recommendation to reject the offer however if their members vote to accept then they will need to explain to those members why they lost three days pay and pension contributions!
“Our colleagues in GMB have taken the same position as ourselves.
“Our suspension of strike action doesn't mean that we won't take up and increase the fight if our members decide to reject this offer.
“Unite believes that this is a good offer for our lowest paid members. We will ask Unison to re-consider their position on next week's strike.”
🚨 Significant development 🚨
A letter has gone out from @unitetheunion regarding their suspension of strike action. It directly attacks @unisonscot, instructs members to cross a picket line, and tells them to challenge those carrying out industrial action. Incredible. pic.twitter.com/U2Njs8pZQ7
— James McEnaney (@MrMcEnaney) September 22, 2023
The email went on to say that if Unison continued with the strike action then Unite members “should attend work as normal with their GMB colleagues.”
“Unfortunately, this could mean having to cross a picket line,” the email added.
“If those on the picket line are unhappy about this then you should ask them why they are striking while their own union's members may well be voting to accept the deal.”
Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Johanna Baxter, Unison’s head of local government, was asked if her members would still go on strike even if the other unions accepted the deal.
"Yes," she replied, saying the decision had been taken by the union's local government committee made up of representatives from across the entire country.
Ms Baxter said her union remained available for talks over the weekend.
Asked if she thought there could be more strikes beyond next week's three days, the union official said it would be ”very likely.”
She added: “I think there is a resolve amongst Unison members about this dispute, because this represents the culmination of a decade of underinvestment in local government, which has not only caused job cuts and decreases to our members’ pay.
“It has meant that those members who have been left to pick up the pieces of jobs that have been taken away are under far more pressure, far more stress and something has got to give.
“The difficulty that we face at the moment is that we have been having these discussions with Cosla for months now.
"They have had months to come up with a decent pay offer that rewards the workforce and protects jobs and they haven't done it well.”