SNP councillors in Glasgow say trade unions with close links to Labour are playing politics with a strike that could see 8000 workers taking to the street.

The industrial action over equal pay at the end of the month by GMB and Unison members will affect home care, schools and nurseries, and cleaning and catering services across the city.

But the unions say that after a decade of being “robbed of hundreds of millions, if not billions of pounds” no one should be surprised that their members “are on the brink of strike action”.

Unless discussion can resume the workers will walk out for 48 hours on October 22 and 23.

The council says the strike could see Cordia home care visits stop for two days with some people in need of four visits a day for help with eating, washing and dressing.

They also expressed fears that people who are due to leave hospital will be delayed because there will be no home support services and others at home may need to call 999 during the strike.

Rhea Wolfson, a GMB Scotland organiser, who is also Labour’s candidate in Livingstone, said her members would bring the city to a “standstill” in order to progress negotiations.

“Our members are striking against decades of unresolved sex discrimination and because they can see the same roadblocks to justice being put in place by council officials yet again,” she said. “Our members have demonstrated, they have marched, and they will bring this city to a standstill in their fight to get their employer to progress negotiations over the settlement of their equal pay claims.”

SNP councillor Rhiannon Spear took to Twitter to question why the unions had not gone on strike under previous Labour administrations: “I completely understand voting for this strike, over a decade of injustice is disgusting.

“But, ask yourself, where was this ballot in the last decade of Labour administrations that refused to negotiate? Why now?

“Negotiations within SNP administration have not broken down.

“The fact is the vast majority of women are not represented by the unions.

“The vast majority of women gave up on their unions in the decade long battle against Labour.

“This is a politicised ballot and will have a devastating impact on Glasgow, especially those with home help,” she added.

Wolfson hit back at the councillor: “This is action that’s been demanded by members, voted for by members,” she told The National.

“It’s disrespectful to workers in Glasgow to say that they are being used in a political ploy. Those who are doing that are using our members as pawns in their own political game”.

In a letter to the unions Annemarie O’Donnell, chief executive of Glasgow City Council warned of the consequences of staff walking out for two days.

She wrote: “You must know that this will at best have a profound effect on the care of some of the most vulnerable people in our city and at worst result in loss of life.”

A spokesman for the council said: “The demands being made by Unison and the GMB cannot be met. They know that.

“Unions agreed to the current timescale as part of the negotiations which have been ongoing for several months – and it is simply wrong to move to strike action when they know that it will not and cannot achieve anything.

“The unions also fully understand that we cannot continue to negotiate an equal pay settlement with them while they are engaged in industrial action.”

Mary Dawson, Glasgow chairwoman of Unison, added: “Our members are now standing up and fighting back. Low paid workers, mostly women who have had enough.

“We have given the council 10 months to make progress on addressing the historical discrimination suffered by these workers. However, the council has agreed nothing.”