Local authorities are facing the threat of industrial action after announcing that 1.6 million council workers are to have their pay frozen for the third year in a row.
Unions reacted furiously after being told by the Local Government Association that more jobs and services would be cut if they ended a two-year pay freeze for workers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland in April.
Officials branded the decision a "disgrace" and warned of industrial action if the issue is not taken to a tribunal. Council employers blamed the "unprecedented" move on rising costs and shrinking funding for council services.
Sarah Messenger, head of workforce at the LGA, said: "This has been a very difficult decision to make but it is the right one for council taxpayers and the workforce as a whole.
"A combination of rising costs and shrinking local government funding means councils were left with little choice."
Unite national officer Peter Allenson said local government workers were under "sustained attack", adding: "Staff have endured a decade of below-inflation pay increases and freezes. Now attacks on pensions, conditions and massive job cuts have heaped misery upon misery."