STRIKING council workers will lodge thousands of unequal pay claims against Cheshire County Council if it does not take notice of its industrial action.
Public service union UNISON argues the implementation of a new pay grading system has failed to address the gender pay gap which sees mainly women workers getting a poor deal.
The union has promised more strikes like the one on Thursday involving classroom assistants and social services staff which closed nine special schools and caused disruption at several others.
Among those shut were The Russett School, Weaverham, Greenbank Residential School, Hebden Green Community School, Winsford, and Barnton's Rosebank Special School.
Nurseries and special educational needs units at Darnhall Primary, Handley Hill Primary and Woodford Lodge High, Winsford, were also closed, as was the one at Kingsley Primary School.
After the strike, Malcolm Dolman, single status officer for UNISON, announced the union would support staff taking the sexual discrimination claims to an employment tribunal if it became necessary.
He said: 'It doesn't provide a solution for a fair pay structure. We would still have to negotiate with the authority for what we consider to be fair.
'But there could be potentially thousands of claims if we felt we were going nowhere.'
A total of 1,400 members of Cheshire UNISON withdrew their labour to coincide with the county council setting its budget.
A noisy but good natured demonstration of about 250 people greeted councillors as they entered County Hall for a meeting to discuss the authority's budget for the coming year.
People held placards which read '50% of clerical and admin staff downgraded' and '£2,000 pay cuts for special needs teaching assistants'.
Assistants had adapted the lyrics to tunes such as Is This The Way To Amarillo? to which they sang the words: 'Is this the way to equal pay? Come on councillors make our day.'
UNISON says the Single Status restructuring was meant to harmonise pay and conditions for staff based on experience and service, but has ended up hitting low paid workers hard.
Mr Dolman said the Tory administration should stop boasting about keeping Council Tax increases to a minimum and start funding its services properly, including paying staff what they were worth.
He said: 'Now they have got into a position where there is no room to manoeuvre.'
A council spokesman said it very much regretted the strike affecting the education of several hundred children, many of them with special educational needs. He said: 'Talks are continuing at a regional and local level in an attempt to find a solution.'