THE general secretary of Scotland’s largest teaching union has said members are “very hopeful” a fresh pay deal can be struck ahead of a planned national strike.

Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) are due to take action on Thursday which would result in school closures across the country. 

The union already rejected a 5% pay increase in September but general secretary Andrea Bradley says she is “very, very hopeful” an improved offer would be made. 

Thursday’s planned action by the EIS would be the first national strike over teachers’ pay for almost 40 years. 

READ MORE: Survey shows barriers for women entering elected office in Scotland

Bradley said that “as things stand the EIS continues to plan for a day of national strike action on Thursday, which is likely to close almost all schools in Scotland”. 

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show, she added the union was optimistic that over the weekend the Scottish Government and the local authority body Cosla “will have been able to arrive at an agreement around a more substantial offer than the 5% that was rejected in the middle of September”. 

The EIS general secretary said: “I’m very hopeful we will have a new offer, very, very hopeful.

“I have been in informal discussions with the Scottish Government and I am hopeful that something that will be worth considering by our salaries committee will be forthcoming at the beginning of the week.”

She said the EIS stands ready to “consider a new offer as soon as it comes to us”, with a special meeting of the union’s salaries committee now scheduled for Tuesday, ahead of a meeting of its executive committee the following day.

“We are more ready to consider any offer that comes forward from the Scottish Government and Cosla over the course of the next couple of days,” Bradley said.

The union’s efforts to win a larger pay rise for its members come at a time when Bradley said some teachers were having to visit foodbanks to feed themselves and their families amid soaring costs for food and fuel.

She said: “Teachers should have had a pay increase in their bank accounts on April 1, this is now the middle of November and we have had nothing, zero, by way of a pay award against a backdrop of rising inflation.

“Which means they are struggling, they are struggling to meet the cost of food, fuel, energy, housing, such that some of our own members are now visiting foodbanks.”

READ MORE: Transgender Scots slam 'broken' and 'demoralising' healthcare system

She stressed the union was “prepared to negotiate” but added that even the 10% rise being sought would represent a “1.1% real terms pay cut” given the current rate of inflation.

Bradley added: “That’s against a backdrop of teachers salaries having eroded to the tune of 25% since 2008 in real terms.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has already warned that finding the cash for increased public sector pay will result in spending cuts elsewhere.

Speaking last week he insisted there were “no unallocated resources”, adding: “If I want to put any more money into a public sector pay deal, beyond what’s already on the table, I have to cut public expenditure and public services.”

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the Scottish Government is “absolutely committed to supporting a fair pay offer for teachers through the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers, the body that negotiates their pay and conditions of service”.

She stated: “I spoke to trades union representatives on Friday and restated that I am keen to work with Cosla, as the employers, to allow them to make a revised pay offer and avoid unnecessary strikes.

“I have been clear, however, that the Scottish Government has a fixed budget and if we are looking to fund public-sector pay offers, then that money must come from somewhere else in the budget.”

A Cosla spokesperson said: "Scottish local government values its entire workforce, of which teachers are a key part. Making an offer that is affordable enables councils to protect the whole of education services and ultimately improve outcomes for children and young people.

"Along with the Scottish Government, we are working closely and at pace to ensure a revised offer can be brought forward, however, there are extremely challenging financial decisions that must be made, and the consequences must be understood. We will remain in active discussions with our trade union partners.”