UNIONS have warned of a "winter of discontent" if ministers fail to resolve a councils pay dispute that threatens to shut schools across Scotland.

Wendy Dunsmore of Unite warned unions were “here for the long haul” after local government pay negotiations broke down on Tuesday, ushering the prospect of strikes that could shut schools in 21 of Scotland's 32 local authority areas and halt bin collections in 14 council areas.

The industrial has already seen litter pile up on the streets of Edinburgh with the prospect that it will spread to other parts of Scotland.

The public services union UNISON Scotland say a joint letter with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) - which acts as an employers' association - is going to the deputy first minister John Swinney to ask for an urgent meeting to discuss increase funding for local authorities to enable talks to continue.

Both the public services union UNISON Scotland and GMB Scotland served notice on nine councils in advance of the talks yesterday that over 14,000 schools and early years staff will be on strike next month.

Unite have a mandate to strike in schools and nurseries in a further 12 local authority areas which could lead to thousands more walking out.

Unions have rejected a potential improved 5% pay offer while pledging a continuation of a wave of local authority staff action involving waste collectors which has begun in Edinbugh.

Unite has said that it was forging ahead with a waste service strike across a further 13 local authorities in the wake of the City of Edinburgh stoppage.

Ms Dunsmore said: “Our first wave was in Edinburgh, the second wave is waste across Scotland, our third wave is going to be schools.

“And it may not stop at schools, we’re in here for the long haul.”

She said: “Our members are demanding a better pay rise, and who knows where we are going to go next?

'Winter of discontent' warning as Scots council strikes hitting schools and waste collection to spread

“We’re looking for a winter of discontent, even though we’re just approaching autumn.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already made clear the Scottish Government does not have a “bottomless pit of money” to resolve the dispute.

But Ms Dunsmore insisted ministers needed to find more cash, as she called on the Scottish Government to at least match the £1,925 pay offer that has been made to council workers in the rest of the UK.

The 5% rise offered to local government staff in Scotland will see workers receive an average of about £900 more a year, she said.

Any rise needs to give “proper recognition that there is a crisis out there for low-paid workers”, Ms Dunsmore said.

She told the BBC: “Our members are being offered on average of £900. That’s less than half of what is being offered elsewhere.

“Now a Tory Government is offering our workers down south nearly £2,000, I don’t think it’s a bad ask for the Scottish Government to at least match that.

“We don’t want strikes, but it is down to the Scottish Government to stop these strikes.

“There is an impact but that’s not an impact because of the workers, that’s because there is a shortage of funding to the Scottish local authorities. This lands at the Scottish Government.”

Local government minister Ben Macpherson said there was “no formal role” for the Scottish Government in the dispute, pointing out the talks were with the local government body Cosla.

And while he said ministers were “working collaboratively with COSLA” he too was clear the Scottish Government had a “finite” budget.

Mr Macpherson said: “We all want to resolve this situation, that is why the Scottish Government is in constructive dialogue with Cosla on a regular basis, a daily basis.

“But we also need to recognise the Scottish Government budget is finite as well, we cannot change taxation mid-financial year, we do not have the borrowing powers of a normal government.”

He said: “It’s a fact of the devolution settlement the Scottish Government has limited resources and limited powers, but we will continue to engage constructively with Cosla because we all want to find solutions here, and that is where our focus will remain.”