EXECUTIVE members of Scotland's largest teaching union have recommended a move to a ballot on strike action over pay.

The ruling body of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) unanimously backed an escalation to industrial action over the issue.

If it goes ahead it will be the first national strike over pay since the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister.

Earlier this week, teaching unions rejected the latest revised offer from council umbrella body Cosla and the Scottish Government.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, said: "The EIS executive has agreed the timeline for the opening of a strike ballot over pay. Our national council will now meet on Saturday to review this timeline, and to consider granting authorisation for a statutory strike ballot on pay.

"Our members have shown a great deal of patience over the past year, but this patience is now exhausted. While we would still welcome any improved pay offer from employers, none has yet been forthcoming. Therefore, our council will now decide whether to initiate a statutory strike ballot when it meets tomorrow."

Teaching unions are currently fighting for a ten per cent increase to rectify the impact of a decade of austerity.

However, councils and Scottish Government ministers argue a current improved offer is the best in the public sector.

The current offer involves a three year deal which would see a three per cent increase in 2018/19 for those earning up to £80,000, followed by three per cent increases in each of the following years.

The Scottish Government says additional contributions to restructure the pay scale will see all teachers receiving at least a five per cent hike increase this year.

John Swinney, the Education Secretary, said recently: “The Scottish Government and local authorities have made an improved pay offer which, including increases as a result of restructuring the pay scale, would see a minimum eight per cent increase between January 2018 and April, with a further three per cent in the third year of the proposed deal.

"This is a better deal than for any group of public sector workers in the UK and we urge the teaching unions to put this to their members for approval."

Tavish Scott, education spokesman for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, called for a major review into teacher pay.

He said: "The Scottish Government has been warned time and time again what will be necessary to avert industrial action, but still they have allowed the situation to snowball.

“If these strikes go ahead they will be the first national teaching strikes in Scotland since the Thatcher years."

A Cosla spokesman said: "We remain in talks and it is nobody’s interest to see industrial action."