JUST about every school in Scotland was closed on Thursday as members of the EIS took to the picket lines in the first day of national strike action over pay in almost 40 years. 

Over 1500 teachers gathered outside the Scottish Parliament during First Minister’s Questions, while even more joined the rally in Glasgow Green. 

In Fife, the union's members gathered outside the constituency office of Education Secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville. 

EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley said her members did not want to be on strike, but that they had "been angered by the repeated foot-dragging of COSLA and the Scottish Government over pay." 

The union has asked for 10 per cent, but the ministers and council leaders have refused to go higher than 5%.

A last-minute offer on Tuesday would have seen most teachers salaries increase by either £1,926 or 5%. The Government and COSLA claimed the new deal was more "progressive" than previous offers as it targetted those on the lowest salaries, giving them a pay hike equivalent to 6.85%.

Ms Bradley said this was "spin."

She said: “The final straw for many teachers was the charade of the ‘revised’ offer that came from the employers earlier this week. This offer was simply a repackaging of the same 5% offer that our members overwhelmingly rejected in a ballot three months ago.”

The union boss added: “I’m not sure if the Scottish Government and COSLA really believed that they could pull the wool over the eyes of Scotland’s teachers with this revised offer – it should be no surprise to them that Scotland’s teachers, who are highly numerate, can do a few straightforward sums. 

“Our members know that this ‘new’ offer, which the EIS rejected out of hand on Tuesday, is actually the same old offer, disingenuously repackaged and repolished by the Scottish Government spin-machine.” 

She urged ministers and local authorities to return to the negotiating table with a “credible new offer so that Scotland’s teachers can get back to doing what they want to do – working to deliver the best possible education for young people across Scotland.”

The EIS planning on taking industrial action again on January 10 and 11.

Earlier in the day, Ms Somerville said she appreciated “the strength of feeling that’s within the unions”. 

However, she said their ask for a 10% increase was just not feasible. 

“We have shown our support for teachers, we recognise the value of teachers, but they also need to recognise the context the Government is working in.

“Let’s just get round the table – rather than more strike dates being announced and a further escalation.

“Let’s see what we can do to prevent that happening and prevent any further disruption to children’s education.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association has also rejected the latest pay offer.

They are due to stage their own strikes on December 7 and 8.

General secretary Seamus Searson said: “The Scottish Government and Cosla have deliberately misled the teachers’ unions into believing a serious increased pay offer would be made.

“After three months what we received was a pathetic and insulting pay offer that penalised senior teachers to the benefit of a very small number of new entrants.

“This treatment only shows contempt for teachers. How they think this is a sensible offer is beyond belief.”