COUNCIL staff look set to take to the picket line to fight their controversial firing and re-hiring on lower wages.

Seventy four per cent of Shropshire Council workers belonging to UNISON said they would strike against the plans in an indicative ballot.

UNISON bosses will now hold a full ballot of members for strike action.

Letters were sent by the authority to all 6,500 employees stating they will be dismissed on September 30, but will keep their jobs and be re-hired on October 1 if they agree to a 5.4 per cent pay cut and new terms and conditions.

The authority is battling to save £76 million due to reduced government funding and says pay cuts would avoid it having to make 400 permanent redundancies.

Alan James, secretary for the Shropshire branch of UNISON, said: “The outcome of the indicative ballot was 74 per cent in favour of strike action.

“We will now commence the process for a full ballot of members for strike action. “

Shropshire Council has already cut away a third of its management, saving around £4million, with the remaining management and councillors having taken large wage cuts.

It is believed cuts for the remaining staff, carried out in two rounds of 2.7 per cent, will generate a further £7million.

About 40 per cent of Shropshire Council staff are UNISON members.