Talks to avert a strike by hundreds of social workers could come too late, a union chief has said.
More than 200 Kirklees Council children’s services staff are expected to walk out on Friday.
They voted for industrial action amid the crisis in the department that has seen it given the lowest rating by watchdog Ofsted.
Kirklees Unison branch secretary Paul Holmes has expressed his surprise that the council has not entered into discussions with the union sooner.
Talks are set to take place on Thursday but no contingency plans for coping with emergency care have been discussed, Mr Holmes said.
As reported, the council’s children’s services directorate was rated “Inadequate” by Ofsted last November and is currently being reviewed by government troubleshooters, Eleanor Brazil and Mark Gurrey.
Mr Holmes said a lack of senior people seemed to be affecting the urgency of its handling of the strike – the first by social workers in the history of Kirklees Council.
He said: “The chief executive leaves in about a fortnight. The staff feel completely exposed.
“The council haven’t asked for any discussion about emergency cover and the strike is on Friday.
“On Monday they approached us about talks and they’ll begin on Thursday but it’s really up against the edge for Friday.”
Unison Yorkshire organiser Rob Demaine said the council’s threat of legal action to stop the strike was just an attempt to “throw a spanner in the works.”
He said officials had been provided with all the necessary details, and more, and any injunction attempt would not stand up to scrutiny in court.
Mr Holmes said he expected large numbers to join the picket line at Riverbank House, Aspley on Friday.
“We’ll get more out than we have members,” he said.
“They’ll be nobody going in on Friday, I’m absolutely sure of that.
“The last national strike we had in 2014 and the council complained that there more on strike than there were union members.”
He added: “Kirklees are saying there’s no money for this and no money for that but they’ve paid out £5m for agency social workers this year.
“Our members can’t carry this on their backs any more.
“The average age of a council worker is 52 and I’d say about 80% of staff want to go.”
Social workers set to strike have claimed working conditions have got worse and worse despite Kirklees’ claims they are improving.
As hundreds of staff from Kirklees Council’s children’s services prepare to walk out on Friday, more reasons behind the dispute have been revealed.
Chaotic computer systems, a lack of desks and just a handful of pool cars for hundreds of employees are all huge bones of contention for stressed out staff.
Kirklees Unison chief Paul Holmes said one social worker was told to take an “at risk” new born baby to Lancashire by public transport as there was no car available.
He said there were only five pool cars for the 300 staff in Huddersfield and a few others around Kirklees.
Speaking to the Examiner at a Unison press conference, three social workers revealed many of the issues that have sparked industrial action.
The workers – who do not want to be named – told the Examiner that concerns had been ignored.
One said: “We’ve been trying our hardest to tell management about our struggles, our difficulties and what we see as failings and that has been ignored until this crisis has hit.”
Another added: “Nobody seems to know what they’re doing. One day someone will tell you to do something one way and the next another will come along and tell you to do it another way.
“What’s happened is there’s even less consultation, even less discussion. It’s much more dictatorial, much more ‘You will do this’.”
“We could see the problems rising but management didn’t,” said a third staff member.
“They went from total denial, to crisis, to a really poor Ofsted when in 2010 we had a good Ofsted report.”