CHILDREN and older people will be affected by a two-day national strike which could bring a number of local government services in Cheshire to a halt.
Special schools, which rely heavily on striking teaching assistants, may have to shut if strike action by Unison goes ahead this Wednesday (July 16) and Thursday (July 17).
Day centres for older people are unlikely to run but essential staffing levels will be maintained at residential homes for the elderly.
Other local government staff involved in the action are social workers, housing benefit workers, librarians, dinner ladies, cooks, cleaners, architects and surveyors.
Unison, which has members within Cheshire County Council and the six district councils across the county, is demanding a 6% pay claim but the government has only offered 2.45%.
Cheshire branch secretary Ingrid Lee said: “We do have exemptions because we don’t want to put vulnerable people at risk we do need to cause some disruption otherwise there is no point in strike action.
“We were offered 2.45% but everything has gone up so much, whether it’s food or fuel. It’s affecting everybody but we have had derisory increases in pay over the past few years.”
Ms Lee said it had annoyed a lot of people that the two new chief executives in charge of successor councils – Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cheshire East Council – will earn about £173,000 each.
But she acknowledged some workers in Cheshire had the even bigger worry on their minds about whether they will still have a job following local government reorganisation.
Unison says a significant pay rise would help bring its lower paid members in line with the rest of the workforce.
Cheshire County Council spokesman Ian Callister said there were contingency plans to manage the situation should the county’s 6,000 Unison members go on strike. Efforts would be made to give as much notice as possible to anybody affected such as schools and carers.
City council spokesman Mike McGivern said about 50% of the workforce was unionised of which about 33% belonged to Unison.
He said: “We would deploy staff in such a way as to ensure all essential services are maintained.”
Mr McGivern said there was a ban on staff taking annual leave on the strike dates unless booked already.