COUNCIL bosses have agreed to offer local government staff a three year pay deal of 9.5% in a bid to avert strike action across the public sector.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), which represents councils, backed a multi-year offer on Friday despite concerns about affordability.

However, although the rise would also apply to teachers, council sources believe a summit tomorrow could result in teachers getting a better offer than other staff employed across local government.

A COSLA spokesman said: “This was a private item and we will make no media comment ahead of speaking to our trade union colleagues.”

Talks between trade unions and employer representatives have so far failed to lead to an agreement on pay for 2018/19, which has led to warnings about potential industrial action.

Unions deal directly with COSLA over pay for nearly all council staff, but teachers have a different mechanism. The Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) includes the unions, COSLA and the SNP Government.

As of early last week, council-employed staff who earn up to £80,000 a year were offered a one year rise of 3%.

However, teachers want a 10% increase and the unions that represent other council workers have also rejected the 3% offer.

At a meeting of COSLA leaders on Friday, it was agreed they would table a three year offer: 3.5% for 2018/19, followed by successive rises of 3%.

The move was narrowly agreed even though senior local authority figures believed last week’s Scottish Government Budget was poor for councils and money is tight.

It is understood the fresh offer could be further complicated by a meeting tomorrow of the SNCT.

Teaching unions would almost certainly dismiss the three year proposal agreed by COSLA and sources expect the Government to bump up the offer to teachers.

The insider said: “It is likely that the Scottish Government will offer more money on Monday so that all teachers get 5% rather than 3.5%.”

However, if teachers are offered a special deal over and above the sums offered to other council staff, the source said the non-teaching unions will demand the same.

In a joint letter to COSLA recently, the GMB, Unison and Unite trade unions warned that “parity” with teachers on any rise was a “principle area of concern for our members”.

The letter stated: “The situation where one bargaining group is given preferential treatment above all others can no longer continue.

“The principle of parity across local government is long held and the justifications for finding additional monies for teachers apply equally to other areas of the local government workforce.”

The letter concluded: “There is now a very real possibility of widespread industrial action across the local government workforce unless you take measures to improve the current offer. We would urge you to do so.”

Larry Flanagan, the general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, which represents teachers, said: "We anticipate an improved offer, but if it does not address our claim in a serious way, it is likely we will move to a statutory ballot in the new year."

GMB Scotland Secretary Gary Smith said: "While we have concerns about how this latest proposal will be weighted across the local government pay scales and this isn’t a done deal by any stretch, it looks like there as been some movement from the employers and it’s certainly better than the settlement in the NHS.

"As ever, whatever COSLA formally tables will be subject to a full consultative ballot of our 30,000 local government members, with our position determined by our Shop Stewards

"It is vitally important we get this deal right so the working class of our local services have some much needed security on pay as the country heads into Brexit uncertainty."