THOUSANDS of trade unionists are voting on strike action which could hit schools across Kirklees.
Members of the Unison union are being balloted nationally on a proposed walkout in protest at a 2.5% pay rise offer.
Some 800,000 members nationally are eligible to vote.
Some 8,000 local government workers in Kirklees are eligible to vote in the strike ballot, which opened yesterday and will run until October 26.
About 2,000 Unison members work in the district’s 198 schools as dinner ladies, cleaning staff and classroom assistants.
Kirklees Unison branch secretary Paul Holmes said a walkout would cause disruption across the district.
He said: “Our members don’t take strike action lightly, but I am confident Kirklees Unison members will vote to support their union.
“With 8,000 members our branch will have a major impact on council services if there is a yes vote.”
Mr Holmes said the pay offer was worth less than £5 a week to most members.
He added: “As house prices rocket, interest rates remain high and food prices soar our members are faced with a pay cut if they accept a 2.475% rise when inflation is running at more than 3.5%.
“As boardroom pay soars and private equity companies make enormous profits the weakest in society are told to tighten their belts.”
Mr Holmes said it was already difficult to recruit council workers because of low pay.
He said: “There is a chronic recruitment problem in many parts of local government – particularly posts largely staffed by women such as school dinner staff and care home workers – because wages are so low.
“The new offer would put many of our members only 48p an hour above the national minimum wage.”
Last week the GMB and Unite unions voted to accept the 2.5% offer.
They have about 1,000 members in Kirklees between them.