Humza Yousaf has urged Unison to suspend this week’s school strikes, saying that the deal being put forward by Cosla was “a very good offer indeed.”

An eleventh-hour "best and final” pay hike from the local authority umbrella body last week saw the GMB and Unite both suspend their planned industrial action, with both unions urging their members to accept.

Unison will also ballot their members, however, they are still pushing ahead with the walkout due to start tomorrow and last three days.

That will force schools in 24 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities to close.

READ MORE: School strikes Scotland: Full list of council areas affected

The new offer represents a minimum wage increase of £2,006 for those on the Scottish Government’s living wage and a minimum increase of £1,929 for workers who are earning above the living wage.

The living wage of £10.85 will rise to £11.89 under the new offer, equivalent to a 9.6% increase.

Asked if the Scottish Government could have done more to prevent school strikes, Mr Yousaf said: “These are negotiations obviously for Cosla but we have been engaged with Cosla right throughout this process, providing additional funding, additional flexibility so more funding can be made available.

“I don’t think anybody could accuse the Scottish Government of not being involved alongside Cosla. But it is for Cosla to lead these negotiations.

“It is a very good offer, that is why a couple of unions of course have suspended strike action and will now consult members.

“There’s government involvement, government funding – it is a very good offer and I would urge Unison, who I understand continue to have concerns, to follow the other trade unions, suspend strike action and do a consultation with their members.”

READ MORE: Unite blasts Unison's 'bizarre' decision not to call off school strike

He was also asked if he thought Unison’s decision was political.

Last week SNP figures told the press that there were questions over the decision because Johanna Baxter, the local government negotiator with Unison, is the chair of Labour’s ruling national executive committee.

Mr Yousaf rubbished the claim.

“I’ve got tremendous respect for Unison, I have dealt with Unison for many years in various different ministerial portfolios, most recently as health secretary. So I have got tremendous respect for Unison.

“I believe they are doing what they believe is in the best interests of their members but I would very politely to suggest that with the further detail we have provided over the weekend, I am hoping there is enough to give them reassurances, that particularly for the lowest paid, but for everybody across any of the pay bands this is a very good offer indeed.”

There are splits between the unions.

In a video released at the end of last week, Mr Mitchell, GMB Glasgow convener, questioned the decision: “For some strange reason, Unison are wanting to continue it. What it looks to me is you’re asking low-paid workers to come out on strike against their colleagues in GMB and Unite, putting people in a predicament, not crossing picket lines. People standing on picket lines.

“And to be honest, low-paid workers are being asked to subsidise the middle earners to get them more money.”

He added: “I hope that we can come together again because we need to be a united front here. We can't have a divide and conquer within the trade union movement.

"Look at what we have achieved and done over the last two years. We have stood together and we have fought together.

“I would encourage Unison to rethink this and let's get back round the table, let's put that offer to the membership and let them decide.”

There was also criticism from Unite's branch in East Dunbartonshire, who described Unison’s decision as “bizarre.”

They even recommended their members cross the picket lines and work rather than lose out on wages.

Though the advice was later rejected by Unite's HQ.

Unison’s Scottish secretary Lilian Macer said: “This dispute could’ve been sorted months ago, but Humza Yousaf chose to stay silent until the last possible moment.

“If the Scottish Government was serious about avoiding disruption for pupils, parents and staff, ministers should have been in touch, and spoken to us. But they’ve been conspicuously absent.

“Cosla is as much to blame. It made an initial offer in the spring, then disappeared for months, only coming up with a revised amount late last week. It was too little and far too late.

“No one wants these strikes to go ahead, but the offer is nowhere near good enough.

“It’s time the Scottish Government and Cosla stepped up, grasped the seriousness of the situation, and improved pay to stop the strikes.”