UNION members at Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) have taken further industrial action and refused to use their cars for work in an ongoing dispute about allowances and contracts.

Nearly 50 per cent of libraries in west Cheshire closed their doors as staff walked out on March 24, with those in Northwich, Barnton and Winsford affected.

The librarians, members of GMB and Unison, are planning similar action on Saturday and calling on CWAC to re-open negotiations on new staff terms and conditions due to come into force on April 1.

The new contracts remove pay enhancements for staff working weekends, overtime and bank holidays, as well as reducing the rate for working nights.

Members of both unions have also withdrawn the use of their cars to carry out council duties until April 11.

Teresa Connally, UNISON branch secretary, said: “Seventy per cent of council staff earn less than £21,000 per annum.

“Now staff working anti-social hours, which have real additional costs, are facing a pay cut.

“For library staff it will be at least a five per cent cut and for care staff it will be much more.

“This is on top of a three-year pay freeze.

“All good employers pay enhancements for working anti-social hours and our members are not prepared to give up theirs without a fight.”

Marie Saunderson, GMB organiser, said the cuts would directly impact services provided to some of the most vulnerable members of society.

A CWAC spokesperson said: “With regard to services provided to vulnerable people, pool cars will be made available.

“All members of staff will be expected to carry out their duties whether or not they use their own company cars.”

Talking of the library strikes, Clr Stuart Parker, executive member for culture and recreation, said: “I would like to apologise to members of the public who may have been inconvenienced by this industrial action on what is normally a very busy day for our libraries.

“Closure was a last resort and only when we have been left with no choice for operational or health and safety reasons.”