'The employers will be exploring ways in which we can move forward in this year's pay talks,' says COSLA vice president and organisational development spokesperson Pat Watters, 'but I must stress again that a 2.5 per cent increase stretches to the limit what councils have told us they can afford this year.
'The unions have recognised that councils are in a very difficult financial position this year and I hope that as a result of today's meeting the employers will be able to move the pay talks forward.'
Meanwhile, UNISON has welcomed as 'a step forward' the announcement that finance minister Jack McConnell would be taking account of pay rises in future cash settlements to local authorities..
'It is good to hear that an element of pay and price rises will be built into future cash settlements. We are glad to see that the Scottish executive is listening to what both we and CoSLA have been saying. However it does not resolve the crucial issue of a fair pay settlement this year.
'We are hopeful that CoSLA will now be serious about stopping future disruption to public services by negotiating a proper settlement tomorrow.'
There is a meeting of the unions' and employers' negotiating body today, and UNISON has a full meeting of all its local council branches immediately following this.
A press conference will follow which will deal with the outcome of the negotiations and give the plans for the day of action on Wednesday 20 September.