UNION bosses in Worcestershire have hit out at the shock news that 1,500 jobs are being axed at the county council - and have revealed that strike action could be on the cards over pay.
Unison says staff at County Hall are "furious" and "disenchanted" over last week's announcement that a staggering 42 per cent of the workforce can expect the chop by 2018.
Your Worcester News can also reveal that a ballot has just taken place over the offer of one per cent pay rise, with the results due to be announced next Thursday.
If a majority of workers reject the offer, a second legal ballot could take place over industrial action.
As your Worcester News revealed last Friday, the council has launched a new plan to hand over as many departments as possible to new providers.
It will mean just 2,000 in-house staff being employed by April 2018, compared to 3,500 now.
Jim Price, from the Worcestershire branch of Unison said: "Staff have been left furious about it, there's a lot of disenchantment.
"Things have now clearly changed and it looks like no matter how good your department is, you're eventually going to be outsourced or closed down.
"A lot of goodwill from the staff is out the window. We're determined to carry on fighting this very difficult battle."
He said despite the anger Unison still has a "good working relationship" with leader Councillor Adrian Hardman and wanted further talks.
Mr Price also said the pay ballot has come about because many workers are finding the cost of living tough.
Staff were handed a one per cent rise in 2013, and before last year had to endure four years of freezes.
"We're claiming at least an extra £1 per hour, which for staff lower down the pay grades would be a substantial amount," he said.
"Staff are still 16 per cent worse off since the change of Government."
The ballot says if staff reject it, in the event of an impasse a second vote will take place which "may require" a strike.
Councillor Hardman says the changes have to be made to respond to reducing Government funding.
"By changing the way we work, we do believe we can manage the budget pressures," he said.
"We won't sack 1,500 people but we do not expect them to be directly employed by this council.
"I've been to seven staff roadshows where this has been quite the topic of debate, there are concerns about it but than there are always concerns over change."