The Nova Scotia government offered teachers a two per cent raise over the next five years, with no increases for the first three.

The two sides exchanged offers on Wednesday. There hasn’t been a contract between Nova Scotia’s 9,400 teachers and the government since the previous agreement expired in July.

The deal would give teachers a one per cent wage increase in the final two years of the proposed five-year agreement.

“We certainly were surprised that there would be no offer of a wage increase,” said Shelly Morse, president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.

Morse says the province’s finance minister took away some of the surprise.

“Because we met with Randy Delorey on Aug. 18 [and] public sector union heads, so we knew that would be the offer that they would put on the table,” she said.

Premier Stephen McNeil says the offer is fair.

“The contracts that we sign, we have to have the ability to be able to pay,” he said. “This reflects the financial reality of this province.”

McNeil says teachers could potentially get more from the government, but put the responsibility on the union to make it happen.

“If the union comes to the table with a package of ways to find efficiencies and help savings, we're prepared to share that with their members,” he said.

Morse wouldn’t reveal what the union’s offer will be until the membership is informed first.

“When we go in, we say we reserve the right to discuss salary at a later date,” she said.

McNeil says there will be significant step increases for up to 40 per cent of teachers as they move up the pay scale.

“They'll receive those increments going forward unless they reach top of scale,” he said.

The government says the step increases could be four to five per cent per year. There have been no meetings scheduled yet for negotiations.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Rick Grant.