The two per cent pay offer made to council workers is ‘nothing short of an insult’ when councillors ‘gave themselves a 5.2 per cent increase’, say trade unions.

Unison, Unite and the GMB are balloting school catering and cleaning staff as well as refuse collectors and recycling workers on targeted strike action.

The ballot closes in July 26 and any action is likely to coincide with the start of the new school year.

East Ayrshire Council said that there are 1,400 staff in the affected departments, with 430 of them being union members.

The unions say members have worked ‘above and beyond’ during the pandemic.

Renee Gillan from Unison said: “After years of declining pay, council workers have had enough.

"The cost of living is putting pressure on workers and their families like never before.

“Having consistently worked above and beyond to keep our key services going over the past two years of the pandemic, and with the cost-of-living spiralling, COSLA’s offer of a two per cent pay increase for local government workers is nothing short of an insult.

"This is a pay cut not a pay rise.

“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 per cent increase that councillors gave themselves in April 2022.”

Amanda Lowe, head of people and culture at East Ayrshire Council, said: “It is still early days, since the ballot doesn’t close until end of July.

“This means that at the moment we don’t have any indication of actual numbers and cannot anticipate the full impact at this stage.

“The appropriate heads of service are aware of the potential strike action and will review their contingency plans and prepare as necessary.”