THOUSANDS of Shropshire Council staff will join the picket line today over their controversial firing and re-hiring on lower wages.

More than 3,000 workers are expected to take part in the day-long walkout, marching from the Abbey Foregate car park in Shrewsbury at 9am.

They will arrive at Shirehall in time for a full council meeting at 10am.

Members of the Shropshire branch of UNISON voted in favour of industrial action last week over proposed changes to their terms and conditions, as well as a pay cut that will come at the end of the month.

Alan James, secretary of the Shropshire branch of UNISON, told Shrewsbury Living:

“It’s a myth that the council believes everybody is happy with the changes they are making.

“They are going in without proper consultation with staff.”

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.

An indicitave ballot by UNISON in August revealed that 74 per cent of its members would be prepared to take strike action.

A full ballot earlier this month revealed 66 per cent of members would actually press ahead with strike action.

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.

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 wage cuts for the remaining staff, being delivered in two rounds of 2.7 per cent, will generate a further £7million.

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