Lewisham Council's school truancy team are holding a 24-hour strike next week over plans to nearly halve ther staff.

Unite has called the strike for next Wednesday (March 12) from 12.01am over the council’s proposals to cut attendance and welfare service staff from 22 to 12 - voted through in a budget meeting last week. The staff had voted for strike action.

Union regional officer Onay Kasab said: "Our members are taking this action as a last resort in defence of a service that helps 4,000 school children annually.

"We call on the council to reconsider its plans. If the cuts go ahead, the result will be a disaster for truancy levels across the borough, with a real impact on young people and the social problems that will follow.

"We understand the financial straitjacket facing the council because of the large cuts to funding imposed by communities secretary Eric Pickles – however, our members are determined to save this service."

A Lewisham Council spokewoman said: “As a result of significant budget cuts by central Government we have had to make some difficult decisions.

"The agreed savings proposals in this area will still ensure that we have a strong attendance and welfare service and schools will be also be able to buy in additional services should they wish to.

"This new model is very similar to the way many other local authorities already operate successfully.

"We very much regret this strike action called by Unite."