The Tory-controlled council's proposal to slash the pay of thousands of workers could push a fresh wave of public-sector cuts across the country, general union GMB warned today.
The union hit out at Northamptonshire County Council, which has outlined options of a 3.6 per cent pay reduction or other cuts to sick pay and incremental rises as well as mandatory unpaid leave.
The council claimed it had "no option" but to look at employment costs rather than redundancies following significant reductions in the number of employees in recent years which had left services "stretched to capacity."
But the GMB said workers were being hit with a "sledgehammer of disproportionate cuts of crippling proportions."
The union said it feared other councils would announce similar plans in the coming months following two previous phases of job losses since the coalition came to power.
Total employment in public services has dropped by more than 420,000 in the two years to this spring and by more than 230,000 in local government, it said.
Regional officer Rachelle Wilkins said: "Once again, we are seeing decent working class people bearing the brunt of this government's mismanagement of the economy.
"Millionaires and bankers are allowed to play fast and loose with people's money, like a game of monopoly, and receive billions of pounds in bonuses, as a reward."
A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: "The scale of the financial challenges facing public-sector organisations such as the council are so significant that we are having to look at wider employment costs of our workforce."