SCOTTISH teachers are preparing to strike this year unless they get a significant increase in pay arguing "enough is enough".

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the country's largest teaching union, has threatened industrial action unless there is a "substantial improvement" in salaries.

The warning comes after more than a decade of pay erosion for the teaching profession as a result of wider public sector pay restraint following the financial crash of 2007/08.

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Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has already committed to providing for a three per cent pay rise for NHS staff, police, teachers and others earning up to £30,000 - with two per cent for those earning more than £30,000.

Herald View: Time to tackle pay erosion faced by Scotland’s teachers

However, councils have questioned whether the rises are affordable for their employees arguing they face real terms cuts in funding.

There is further pressure on deal after the Scottish Government sanctioned a move in the college sector to establish salary levels for unpromoted lecturers at £40,000.

As pay talks loom the EIS said anything below inflation will not be good enough arguing the salary of an unpromoted teacher - currently just over £36,000 - has been eroded by some 16 per cent since 2003.

Unions also blame the current teacher recruitment crisis, which has seen a raft of unfilled vacancies in key subject areas, on the erosion of salaries.

Larry Flanagan, the EIS general secretary, said: “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."

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Mr Flanagan said that for many highly qualified graduates teaching was no longer an attractive career option.

He added: "As graduate pay in other professions has increased, it has become ever more difficult to attract people into teaching – particularly in some parts of the country and in science, technology and mathematics subjects where pay in industry is substantially higher.

"We have a very clear objective – to achieve a meaningful pay award that will start the process of returning teachers’ pay to pre-austerity levels."

A Scottish Government spokesman said officials were working with councils and trade unions through the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers to improve pay and conditions.

He added: "We have already taken action to reduce workload and have agreed a backdated one per cent pay rise from April and a further one per cent uplift from January until the end of March backed by an additional £24 million in the draft budget.

"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."

A spokesman for council umbrella 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 major report on education systems around the developed world last year found the value of pay for secondary staff in Scotland was ranked 19th out of 37 countries compared to eighth in 2007.

The survey report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) concluded: "In contrast to the general trend across OECD countries, teachers’ statutory salaries in ... Scotland were worth less in real terms than they were in 2005."

Herald View: Time to tackle pay erosion faced by Scotland’s teachers

Another problem that has arisen is the lack of promotion opportunities after councils removed principal teachers and introduced faculty structures instead where different subjects are grouped together under one promoted teacher.

The situation means there is a shortage of promotion opportunities as well as leading to teachers being in charge of subjects that are not their specialisms.