Council workers across the Horsham district went on strike on Thursday (July 10) over a dispute over a Government pay rise offer.
The Government has offered them a one per cent pay rise - the first increase in four years - however the unions believe that is not enough. members of Unison, Unite, the GMB and Nationa Union of Teachers walked out.
James Ellis, Unison West Sussex negotiating officer joined 30 staff on the picket line at County Hall North in Horsham.
He said: “(Low paid earners) would get slightly more than one per cent because if the Government gave them one per cent, it would be below the minimum wage and illegal.
“Our claim is for £1 an hour on all salary bands to bring salaries up to the living wage. They’ve had an 18 per cent real terms decrease.”
While workers have had a pay freeze they say they have seen their jobs transformed.
Wendy Wilson, 54, works in old people’s mental health care for West Sussex County Council. She said: “There are now only eight of us on the team because of the cuts.
“We work across the whole of North Sussex - East Grinstead, Haywards Heath, Crawley and Horsham.
“We are all working lots of hours. There are less of us to do the same amount of work and more work. There’s an increasing population and ageing population, more dementia and lots of social workers are leaving the trade.”
A WSCC spokesman said people were sharing desks as part of plans to reduce its office accommodation from 49 buildings to six. She said: “This will lead to significant savings of more than £1.8 million. To achieve this we have a staff to workstation ratio of 1.5 staff to one workstation which is, in itself, enabled by more flexible IT, including laptops.”
Members of Unison and the GMB union at Horsham District Council also went on strike.
Unison branch secretary Tina White, 61, said: “This is the fifth year of a take or leave it attitude (from the Government). We are not doing it through choice. We are doing it to make a bit of a statement.”
Firefighters also went on strike on Thursday starting a fortnight of disrupted services. It is the latest in a series of strikes in a dispute with the Government over pensions. They are striking at some point every day until Monday July 21. For more detail go to www.westsussex.gov.uk