UNION members gathered outside a council headquarters to stage a protest against savage cuts while councillors inside discussed the controversial savings proposals.

Around 70 North Lanarkshire Council employees – represented by Unison – staged a colourful protest outside the local authority's Motherwell base yesterday afternoon.

The demonstration was held in an effort to encourage elected councillors to reject council officers' proposals to slash £73.3million from budgets between 2013/14 and 2015/16.

Included in the proposals are more than 280 savings options worth a total of £103.7m. Councillors were due to vote yesterday on which options they would take up to save the required £73.3m.

The cuts agenda could end up costing as many as 1400 council jobs, depending on which options councillors accept.

Three Unison members dressed as Grim Reapers were at the centre of the protest.

There was also a group of parents from Abronhill High School in Cumbernauld in attendance.

Their children's school has been earmarked for closure.

The meeting of the council's Policy and Resources Committee started at 2pm, with the savings discussion high up on the agenda.

But in a surprise move, convenor Jim McCabe told councillors no decision would be taken and the savings vote was continued for a special meeting, the date of which has yet to be agreed.

Outside in the rain, protesters heard from Unison leaders who urged councillors not to bow to officers' demands.

Marie Quigley, Unison's North Lanarkshire Branch chairwoman, told the crowd the proposed cuts would hurt low-paid women especially.

She said: "People like classroom assistants, nursery teachers and home carers. People that provide vital services to others who really need them.

"These are the people that our council officers want to cut adrift.

"It's a scandal and it will devastate communities if we let them away with it."

After the meeting, a council spokesman said: "Councillors decided today's savings report required further consideration and therefore it will be continued to a future meeting.

"The date for that meeting will be announced in due course."

stef.lach@ heraldandtimes.co.uk