A 48-hour strike by hundreds of thousands of council workers will hit schools, libraries and refuse collection, close civic offices and sports centres and disrupt other local authority services.
In the biggest bout of industrial unrest for years, members of three unions will take part in the strike which is expected to hit a host of public services across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Unison and Unite said they expected more than half a million workers to join the 48-hour walkout in protest at a rejected 2.45 per cent pay offer.
In a separate pay row, members of the Public and Commercial Services union, including driving test examiners and coastguards will take industrial action in the next few days.
Council workers will stage rallies in towns and cities across the country during the strike, which will heap more pressure on the Prime Minister as he grapples with the UK’s economic problems.
In Birmingham nearly 20 schools will close today as classroom assistants, caretakers and dinner ladies join other council workers in a walkout. Eight of the schools are primary and nine are secondary. Tomorrow will see eight primary schools shut and eight secondaries close.
In Wolverhampton, more than 40 schools will be closed or partially closed, and household refuse, green garden waste and kerbside recycling will not be collected.
All libraries in Stoke-On-Trent will be closed, as well as eight schools.
Coventry City Council said 12 schools will close and refuse collections disrupted, 14 schools will close or partially close in Staffordshire, nine in Worcestershire and a similar number between Herefordshire and Shropshire, where day care centres and libraries will also be hit.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: "The pounds in local government workers’ pockets are turning to pennies. The cost of everyday essentials like milk, bread, petrol, gas and electricity are going through the roof - our members cannot afford to take another cut in their pay.
"Strike action is always a last resort but we have been left with no choice. Local government employers are sitting on £3 billion worth of efficiency savings made by our members they could use to settle the strike now. There is no need to ask the Government for more, no need to put up council taxes and no need to cut jobs or services."
Local government employers reiterated that the 2.45 per cent was the final offer, warning that a bigger rise would have to be funded through higher council taxes or cuts in services.
Jan Parkinson, managing director of the local government employers, said: "It is disappointing that the unions are taking staff out on strike when only seven per cent of them voted for industrial action. Council workers will lose two days’ pay and many of them can ill-afford this."
Check the list of Birmingham schools that will close this week due to the strike.
Check the list of Staffordshire schools, libraries and social centres due to close.