INDUSTRIAL action could disrupt Halton Council services in the summer, warn union leaders.

Public sector union Unison is to ballot council workers and school support staff for strikes after 71 per cent of members across the country rejected a one per cent pay offer.

The Local Government Association, representing authorities including Halton, said the rise was a ‘fair deal’.

Paula Barker, Halton Unison branch secretary said workers are finding it difficult to pay their food and fuel bills.

She said: “We have members who access our welfare fund and food banks. In 2014, this is absolutely horrendous.

“People with families who are in work are really struggling. They deserve to be given a decent standard of pay in line with inflation.

“Our members are seeing the pinch on everything. Our pay is stagnant and regressing when petrol and the cost of living is rising.”

She paid tribute to council workers in Runcorn and Widnes for going above and beyond the call of duty.

She said: “Staff in Halton are absolutely remarkable. Their service is second to none. It is a vocation. At a time when they have all this crisis going on in their home lives as they struggle to make ends meet, they deserve a decent pay rise.

“In real terms, if we had accepted this one per cent pay rise, our pay would be down by 20 per cent. We are the poor relation of the public sector.”

The ballot runs from May 23 to June 23.