TALKS were continuing today to try to avert a strike by 1.5m council workers and civil servants on Wednesday.

A new deal offered by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott on Friday aims to stave off the 24-hour walkout.

Unions were meeting later to decide their next move, but if the strike does go ahead, more than 8,000 Kirklees Council workers are set to join the action - badly hitting schools, bin collections, libraries and council office services.

Thirty-two schools have said they will close if the strike goes ahead because of problems with caretaking, cleaning, catering and classroom support.

These include: Almondbury High; Birkdale High; Whitcliffe Mount; Birkenshaw Middle; Bradley Infant and Nursery; Bradley Junior; Brownhill Infants; Crossley Field Junior and Infants; Crow Lane Junior, Infant and Nursery; Dalton Junior, Infant and Nursery; Field Lane Junior, Infant and Nursery; Greenside Infant and Nursery; Healey Junior, Infant and Nursery; Leeside Infant and Nursery; Lowerhouses Junior, Infant and Early Years; Marsden Junior; Mill Lane Junior Infant and Early Years; Overthorpe Junior Infant and Nursery; Park Road Junior, Infant and Nursery; Reinwood Junior; Stile Common Infant and Nursery; Thornhill Junior and Infant; Denby Dale Nursery; Flatts Nursery; Thornton Lodge nursery; Hartshead Moor; Highfields; Longley; Lydgate; Nortonthorpe Hall; Ravenshall; Turnshaws.

Paul Holmes, Kirklees Unison branch secretary, said support for strike action was "overwhelming."

He said people were applying to join the union in droves.

Mr Holmes said: "Proposed changes to our pension scheme will mean raising the minimum age people can retire from 60 to 65. Further draconian changes planned include cutting pension payments, raising pension contributions and abolishing the pension lump sum."

Mr Holmes said members were appalled by the proposals.