A UNION has warned that imposing a pay offer on council staff is likely to lead to an escalation of industrial action in a dispute that has closed schools in parts of Scotland.

Tens of thousands of children are missing lessons on Wednesday as school support staff in four local authorities walk out in a row over pay, following national action in September.

Wednesday’s action is part of rolling strikes by Unison members, scheduled to take place across the country in the coming weeks after the union rejected a pay offer from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla).

The Unite and GMB unions accepted the offer, but Mark Ferguson, chairman of Unison’s local government committee, said it is below the rate of inflation and the union is looking for “an inflation-proofed offer”.

Following reports Cosla may be planning to impose the offer, he urged it not to do so.

READ MORE: David Lammy: Israeli strike on refugee camp 'can be legally justified'

Ferguson told the PA news agency: “We’ve had some constructive dialogue with Cosla this week, I met with them on Monday, we’re waiting on a response.

“We’re hoping that they take on board our concerns and the fact that we’re taking industrial action and try and resolve the dispute.

“If imposition happens then I’m pretty sure and confident there’ll be an escalation, our members’ resolve is quite strong and they want a settlement that means something to them in this cost-of-living crisis.

“We urge Cosla not to impose this offer, but if they do then the union will respond in the way that it needs to.”

Workers including janitors, cleaners and pupil support assistants are among those taking strike action in East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, Inverclyde and Glasgow.

A large proportion of schools are shut, however some secondary schools may remain open for pupils in S4-6 preparing for exams.

The National:

The revised offer represents a minimum increase of £2006 for workers on the Scottish local government living wage, and a minimum of £1929 for those above the rate.

The living wage of £10.85 will rise to £11.89 per hour – equivalent to a 9.6% increase.

Ferguson said: “This offer is below the rate of inflation for every single worker in Scottish councils and we want an inflation-proofed offer, but we don’t want that to come from jobs and services.”

Unison has also served notice of strike action in South Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Edinburgh and Fife on November 8.

Members are expected to gather on Buchanan Street in Glasgow for a rally on Wednesday.

Speaking on the picket line outside Castlehead High School in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Ferguson said members do not want to disrupt children’s education but are being “forced into it”.

He said: “We can’t keep going the way we’re going, we’re not retaining people, we’re not recruiting people, and we’re not valuing our workers in Scottish councils.

“I say to parents, stay with us because if we win this dispute it will be an improvement to everybody’s lives and the children in the longer term.”

Johanna Baxter, Unison Scotland's head of local government, said: “While no deal has yet been reached, we continue to have constructive dialogue with Cosla and we remain committed to resolving this dispute as soon as possible.”

Cosla resources spokeswoman Katie Hagmann previously said it had put “an incredibly strong half a billion pound pay package on the table,” and that it is “disappointing” Unison members had voted to strike.

She added: “Offering almost 10%, or a £2006 pay increase, for lowest paid workers, which the unions asked for, and £1929, or at least 5.5%, for everyone else is as far as local government can go without impacting service and jobs.”