Public sector workers are being balloted for strike action because a pay offer is “derisory” and will turn a crisis into a “catastrophe”, unions have said.

Thousands of school, early years, cleansing and environmental workers in Glasgow could take action next month.

In Glasgow it could hit schools as cleaners and support staff are involved in the ballot and unions said it could be the first wave of action as other parts of the public sector could be balloted in the coming months, if offers do not improve.

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GMB, Unite and Unison are currently balloting for industrial action over a 2% pay offer which leaders say is a real terms cut.

Union leaders say many of the workers are earning below £25,000, which the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has said is the level at which people can be considered low paid.

The unions say the offer amounts to less than £10 a week for these workers.

The 2% across the board offer, the unions say, will disproportionately benefit public sector officials on higher wages while leaving those at the lower end struggling with the rising cost of living.

GMB said the lowest rate on the pay scales is £9.78 per hour or £18,816 for a 37 hour week.

A 2% rise would mean an extra 19p per hour or £376 a year, just £7.23 a week.

At the higher end, 2% for the highest rates, at £85,521, would mean an extra £1710 a year.

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Official figures show that 51% of the council workforce covered in the pay bargaining earn below £25,000 a year.

At 24,915, per year, a 2% rise would mean and extra £498 a year or £9.57 a week.

The unions asked for a £3000 flat rate across all grades.

Keir Greenaway, GMB regional organiser, said: “The biggest cost-of-living crisis in 40 years could turn into a catastrophe for tens of thousands of low-paid ­workers in local government.

"The 2% pay increase on the table won’t amount to more than a tenner a week for the likes of school cleaners, support staff and cleansing workers.

“In case anyone needed reminding, they are just some of the key workers that were applauded on the doorsteps two years ago by the same politicians now denying them a pay deal that confronts soaring inflation and eye-watering energy bills.

“Anger and worry are growing because the 2% was roundly rejected in spring, politicians are sleeping in the summer, and the autumn energy price hike will give way to a brutal winter when many workers won’t be able to afford to heat and eat, never mind one or the other.”

Unison states: “This offer is derisory.

“It will exacerbate the gap between those on the lowest and those on the highest rates of pay.

“And it is in sharp contrast to the 5.2% increase that councillors themselves have just received from April 1, 2022.”

A Cosla spokesperson responded: “We remain in ongoing negotiations with our trade union partners.”