Trade Unions are warning that nursery workers could enter into a dispute with North Ayrshire Council over the new extended hours.

More than 150 Early Years staff attended a meeting with unions Unison, Unite and GMB last week to voice their discontent over the new scheme which is being piloted in some centres across North Ayrshire.

The Scottish Government plans to ensure all three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds can access 1,140 hours of free early years care each year – almost double the current amount of 600 hours – by August 2020.

But in some cases nursery staff say they have seen their working hours almost double from six-hour days to 10-hour days with just one half-hour break.

Now union bosses say if council chiefs do not reassess how they are managing and implementing the new hours, a dispute could be imminent.

Andy MacFarlane from Unite said: “From the reactions of the people taking part in the pilots and the people expected to carry out these hours there’s a degree of concern about how this is going to be managed.

“There’s a potential for a dispute. It has not happened yet, not until

we get to a point where there’s absolutely no change in the council’s position and our members are not prepared to change their position.

“Every authority is doing it a different way. They have been given carte blanche to role it out however they see fit, but people have been phoning us and saying they’re not happy.

“In some cases they are rolling these hours out where there is not necessarily any uptake. So we have people working these hours but they’re standing about doing nothing.

“If we are expecting someone to go from a six hour day to a 10 hour day you have to consult them on it, surely? These are things that massively affect people’s lives.”

One early years worker told the Times staff feel like they have not been given any consideration: “It seems the new hours give every consideration to service users rather than to those providing it.

“I have met a couple of people that are happy with the new hours but they don’t have young families and wouldn’t have to pay for childcare themselves during the school holidays.

“I particularly found the hours hard when I was working with challenging behaviours from 8-6 with a half hour break.

“There is no time in the 10 hour day for planning or paperwork particularly when most establishments are short staffed, this is worrying when recording information is a key part of the job.”

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “We look forward to meeting with Trade Unions soon to have further positive discussions.”