Thousands of Northamptonshire County Council staff are facing the prospect of having new pay and conditions imposed on them.
About 6,000 staff have not signed new contracts that have been offered to them, and now face the prospect of being dismissed and then re-hired under the conditions the council has laid down.
Unions said they were taking legal advice over the situation.
The council has carried out a jobs review of its 14,780 staff and analysed the work done, and placed people on the relevant pay scale according to what they do.
This is meant to ensure that people are paid the same for the same kind of work.
Northamptonshire County Council said 6,504 people had been offered more pay, 4,149 would stay the same and 4,127 would face pay cuts.
The deadline for staff to agree their new contracts was 20 September and by that date, 6,344 people had agreed new terms.
However some staff who face a pay cut said they were dismayed by the move.
Some callers to BBC Radio Northampton talked of low morale at the council, and a sense of unfairness.
One said she faced having more responsibility at work, but working for less money.
Dave Schama, from the GMB union, said he thought a number of people had been "frightened" into signing new contracts, and criticised the council's approach to negotiations on the issue.
Council chief executive Paul Blantern said the authority had no choice other than to carry out the review, and said he and his colleagues were committed to finding a way forward.
The unions said they could not rule out industrial action while the authority said it would be open and listen to the unions.
A 90-day consultation period on the possibility of staff being re-hired on new contracts began on 1 October.