A decision on teachers' pay was postponed at the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee on Wednesday as Glasgow schools took to the streets to protest against cuts and councils finalised plans to slash education budgets by Pounds 100 million.
Ronnie Smith, the Educational Institute of Scotland general secretary, acknowledged that councils were in a "desperate" financial situation but refused to disclose the percentage deal the unions are seeking.
Their claim was submitted in broad terms without a figure attached, although they will want to rival the phased 3.3 per cent deal south of the border. Councils insist few can afford more than 2 per cent without job losses.
Elizabeth Maginnis, the councils' chief negotiator, commented: "There is a fair gap between expectation and reality."
A meeting on March 17 between employers and unions representing administrative, professional and manual staff will indicate the teachers' likely deal.
Last year, Scottish teachers were awarded a quick 3 per cent settlement, against a phased 3.75 per cent in other parts of Britain. This year, the pay review body in England and Wales recommended 3.3 per cent in two parts: 2 per cent from April and 1.3 per cent from December. This will add an overall 2.4 per cent to the pay bill.
A similar deal in Scotland would cost Pounds 32 million on top of the existing Pounds 1.3 billion salaries bill.