Tens of thousands of council and school support staff across the county could walk out over a continuing dispute over pay.

Workers across Sussex affiliated with the union Unison, will be joined in a ballot for strike action by a third of a million colleagues working in local government in England and Wales.

The union is calling for a pay increase of two per cent above inflation, with Unison claiming the current wage offer made by employers of a flat rate of £1,925 to local government staff falls short of what is needed to meet rising prices.


Unison South East regional secretary Steve Torrance said: “Too often council and school support staff are taken for granted. Without them, the services on which whole communities rely won’t exist.

“With cuts to local government and education budgets, employees are having to do more with far less. That puts huge pressure on an already-stretched workforce struggling to keep afloat as costs continue to soar.

“Staff are leaving their jobs because pay is falling ever further behind and neighbourhoods will suffer. Bins won’t be collected, schools won’t have sufficient staff and vulnerable people will be deprived of vital support.

“These workers are truly dedicated but they’ve had enough. Going on strike is a huge step that isn’t taken lightly but many feel they have to make a stand.

“Employers can do far better. But ministers also need to step up to make sure local government is given the funding it needs, so staff get a decent wage and services are protected.”

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The six-week ballot, which closes on July 4, includes refuse collectors, social workers, teaching assistants, librarians and many more working at 4,000 different employers.

A separate ballot for Northern Ireland will open in August,

It comes just a week after the union said that “unsung heroes” including refuse workers and care workers often have their work taken for granted.

Unison commissioned realistic action figures to highlight the importance of public sector workers to communities, created with 3D printing technology in the exact likeness of council workers.

The union said it hopes the action figures will encourage the public to think more about the role they play and appreciate them more.