COUNCIL workers and school staff in Burton and South Derbyshire are to vote on whether to strike later in the summer.
Thousands of workers, including teaching assistants, street cleaners and social workers, from across Staffordshire and Derbyshire will decide if they want to walk out during the next four weeks over pay.
Union bosses are unhappy with a national below-inflation one per cent pay rise offer which is currently on the table, insisting their members deserve better.
Unison has branded the offer a ‘disgrace’ and said its members who were ‘keeping schools and services running’ were being ‘taken for granted’.
If workers vote in favour of strike action, there will be a mass walk out during July, which could force schools across Burton and South Derbyshire to close.
Unison has begun balloting members and said the continuing pay situation was sapping the morale of council workers and could force many of them to look elsewhere.
The one per cent offer comes after a below-inflation rise last year which followed three consecutive freezes.
Unison and the GMB have also voiced their displeasure at the pay offer, and will also begin balloting its members next month.
Mike Brown, Unison’s regional officer, said the Government’s refusal to negotiate had forced its hand.
He said: “The ballot is not an action we have taken lightly. We are deeply disappointed the employers have refused to reconsider taking part in arbitration and engage in further talks with the trade unions.
“Councillor Jim McMahon, chairman of the Local Government Association Workforce Board, has recently said local councils need staff who are ‘highly motivated and enthused’ to deliver services to the communities they serve.
“This pay offer does nothing to motivate or enthuse the thousands of hard pressed councils and schools staff.
“Coming on the back of three consecutive years of pay freezes, followed by a below-inflation rise in 2013, staff pay is now worth almost 20 per cent less since the Coalition government came into power.
“This pay offer will only dampen morale and force experienced qualified staff out of local government.”