COUNCIL workers throughout the region will today begin receiving ballot papers for a vote on strike action.

Unison, the public sector union, together with other trade unions, is balloting its 47,000 members in councils across the North-East because of a dispute over pay.

The call for strike action follows a final offer from the employers of three per cent, which has already been rejected by local government unions.

Unison, along with the GMB and the Transport and General Workers Union, intend to stage a 24-hour strike on Wednesday, July 17, if the ballot is successful.

Lynne Robson, Unison's regional head of local government, said: "Our members will be receiving their ballot papers today, and all the indications are that there will be support for strike action.

"We still hope this can be averted and that the employers will make a realistic offer that shows they are serious about addressing low pay. Our members want fair pay, better treatment and respect from managers and ministers."

Meanwhile, a Unison survey has revealed that most council workers have considered leaving their jobs in the past year because they feel under-valued and poorly paid.

Almost seven out of ten workers questioned admitted they had considered leaving their jobs, with many actively looking for a new post.

Almost one in three of those polled were working extra hours for no pay, while most of those questioned said their workload and pressure had increased over the past year.

Council bosses are defiant over the wage dispute and say their offer is above inflation.

Leader of Redcar and Cleveland Council, Councillor Dave Walsh, said: "The pay claim they are looking for can only be conceded at the cost of union members' jobs and an increase in the council tax.

"As for dissatisfaction at work - everyone at some time or another looks for work elsewhere. When council workers look for new work, it is generally at another local authority."