The leading negotiator for the education authorities has branded the Educational Institute of Scotland's 4.7 per cent pay claim "completely unrealistic".
Elizabeth Maginnis, convener of the management side on the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee, said: "Education authorities are in yet another year of deeply restricted budgets and the level of the claim will be of serious concern. We will be holding discussions within the management side to address a number of issues which it raises."
The claim will now be pushed through the teachers' panel which the institute forms with the smaller unions and will be tabled at the SJNC, which is due to meet on February 18.
The EIS says the demand is in line with growth in average earnings. A teacher's salary has risen by 30.3 per cent since the start of the decade, according to the union, while average earnings have grown by 40.5 per cent. The starting salary for an honours graduate teacher would be Pounds 15,035 if it had kept pace with pay rises elsewhere, instead of Pounds 13,944.
The union also estimates that the average starting salary of a graduate last year was Pounds 15,462, 10.9 per cent more than the equivalent for a graduate teacher.
But councils, which have to fund any increase from their own resources for the fifth year running, calculate they will have to find another Pounds 30 million if rises are in line with previous awards of 2-3 per cent.
Councils have had to absorb a total of Pounds 110 million in rises over the past four salary rounds and continue to hope that the millennium review into the management and funding of education, which they are conducting jointly with the unions, will conclude with a new pay and conditions system. But the chances of agreement on what the unions see as a permanent sale of their conditions for a temporary salary gain are slim.
There are now signs that the authorities are beginning to breathe new life into one of the longest running sagas in pay bargaining - an end to the statutory role of the SJNC. Angus has called for "significantly more scope for meaningful local bargaining".
North Ayrshire says the statutory protection of the SJNC has delayed negotiations and made new agreements hard to achieve.