Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesman Willie Rennie said he understood the frustration of trade unions.
And Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said a promise during the pandemic was to "reward" essential workers such as teaching and cleaning staff.
Teachers have already rejected a 2 per cent pay offer, with the Educational Institute for Scotland (EIS) union pushing for a 10 per cent rise.
Mr Rennie said: "There are significant concerns around any industrial action, particularly in education, where the performance in education has not been as good as it should have been and the international performance has slipped.
"What this speaks to is a failure of the SNP Government to conduct proper industrial relations with the workforce right across a whole range of areas.
"We've seen it with the trains, potentially with local authorities and therefore the education system.
"We are suffering now from a failure of Government to actually give the workers the respect of the pay and conditions they deserve.
"I understand the frustration from the trade unions because the cost of living is going sky-high, inflation potentially up 10 per cent and for some higher, so I can understand absolutely the pressure and why they want bigger pay rises.
"The Government have got to step up and make sure they can try and get that settled in a fair and reasonable way as soon as possible but we are suffering from a failure of industrial relations over a long period of time. "
He said councils have been "starved of cash for a number of years" resulting in "workers suffering" in terms of pay and conditions.
Mr Sarwar said: "In the midst of a cost living crisis when inflation is getting close to 10 per cent, offering them 2 per cent means a real terms pay cut.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are committed to supporting a fair pay offer for teachers through the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers, the body that negotiates teachers’ pay and conditions of service. It is for local government, as the employer, to make any revised offer of pay.”