Scotland's 48,000 teachers have "reluctantly accepted" a 2.5 per cent pay increase, accompanied by a warning from the leader of the main union that the lid could not be kept on the pressure-cooker for much longer.
The rise, backdated to April 1, adds Pounds 27 million to the teachers' Pounds 1.1 billion pay bill. Councils were adamant they could not go beyond 2. 5 per cent without job losses. Shetland stood alone in being prepared to accept that 2.8 per cent would have had a "limited impact".
Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said they had taken account of the fact that teachers had already suffered job losses and insecurity because of the genuine financial problems councils were facing.
But Mr Smith added that the combination of an ageing profession, low morale and early retirement showed "pressure is building which could lead to the cyclical conflicts we have had in the past".
The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association expressed "considerable dissatisfaction" with the increase, which will take an unpromoted teacher on maximum pay from Pounds 20,796 to Pounds 21,315 (compared with Pounds 21, 383 in England from December).
David Eaglesham, the association's general secretary, echoed the EIS warning but made clear the SSTA had voted against the settlement. The repeated alibi of using the financial climate to continue paying teachers on the cheap had led to salaries being depressed in relation to those of other graduates, he said.
Tino Ferri, spokesman for the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, condemned the deal as "the sixth successive failure" of the negotiating body. English teachers, he said, would have a 3.3 per cent starting point for salary rises next year following a two-stage deal arising from their pay review body.
But the EIS points out that this averaged 2.4 per cent in the year and said that English teachers' conditions had been traded for pay, resulting in no class size limits and open-ended working hours for teachers.
Elizabeth Maginnis, convener of the management side, welcomed "this very reasonable settlement".