Plans to cut more than 700 jobs at Stoke-on-Trent City Council are "too savage, too quick", a union has said.
Unison's Colin Walton said there had been a "stunned silence" when the scale of the cuts was announced on Monday.
The council is looking to make £33m savings in its 2011/12 budget.
Council chief executive John van de Laarschot said the plans prioritised internal efficiencies to "protect the most vulnerable within communities".
Mr Walton said: "We have got to persuade the government in the first instance, and in turn our council, that... they need to be looking at other alternatives."
Mr van de Laarschot said the council had already written to the government to make a special case for the city, based on levels of deprivation, unemployment and benefits.
Council services such as adult social care, regeneration and children's services could all be affected by the proposals.