Hundreds of UK Border Agency workers started voting today on whether to take industrial action - which may go as far as a strike - over a colleague they claim was sacked because of his activities as a union representative.
More than 1,200 PCS members at the UKBA in Liverpool started the ballot on the action which could start in mid-February.
Kevin Smith, 26, from Wallasey was dismissed last October for raising what the Home Office alleged was a "vexatious complaint" about four of his managers at the Capital Building office on Old Hall Street.
The union claimed Mr Smith was targeted for his union activity and although he agreed to mediation as an alternative to a formal grievance the managers concerned rejected the approach.
A UKBA spokesman called on PCS to call off the "groundless ballot."
He said: "We have correctly followed disciplinary procedures in this case and industrial action will not change the outcome but will simply have an negative impact on the public."
However PCS North West regional secretary Peter Middleman said: "This is the latest in a worrying trend of elected union reps being picked off by an extremely hostile employer.
"There has been collusion throughout the senior management chain and a litany of procedural breaches clearly designed to discourage complaints about a regime which would appear to prefer the freedom to bully and cajole staff rather than manage in a professional manner.
"We're working with the branch, the TUC and our legal team to ensure justice prevails in Kevin's case."