STRIKING council workers have been warned they risk being sacked after resoundingly rejecting the latest attempted pay deal by the council.

Any workers that take part in further walkouts could be dismissed after council chiefs warned they would take legal advice once the protection period for strikers runs out.

Union leaders insisted the longrunning and bitter dispute over pay cuts brought in under threat of dismissal is “far from over” after rejecting the latest offer.

It is now set to rumble into its 13th week on Monday taking union members outside of the 12-week period of legal protection for strikes.

Southampton council leader Royston Smith said he was “disappointed”

the latest proposals, which had been hammered out after weeks of negotiations with union representatives, have been turned down.

Almost 600 members packed into a heated union meeting yesterday to hear details of the proposals, which had been thrashed out to ease the impact of pay cuts of between two and 5.5 per cent brought in on July 11 to protect 400 jobs. They would have lifted workers earning under £21,500 from the cuts and restored some pay to other workers.

But after an hour of debate, they voted to reject the deal by a majority of four to one.

One source at the meeting in Above Bar Church said: “There was a mood of militancy in there, that they were not going to be pushed around. There was a lot of anger in there, particularly directed towards Royston Smith.”

Unison branch secretary Mike Tucker said afterwards that “real hostility” over the pay cuts wasn’t diminishing.

“There were people who have been on strike as well as those who haven’t. There were manual and professional workers there, but the vote to continue the strike action was by a large majority.”

Leaders from Unison and Unite will be meeting today to discuss the consequences of the vote. Bin men and street cleaners are currently in the middle of a two-week walkout and are not due to return to work until Monday, while traffic wardens are due to stage one day of industrial action on Friday.

Officials said last night there would not be any strikes next week.

But Cllr Smith told the Daily Echo any workers striking outside of the legally-protected period could be putting their jobs at risk.

He said: “If city council staff continue to strike beyond the 12 weeks we will make sure that services are not disrupted as much as possible, and we will have to take legal advice on what we can do.”

Mr Tucker responded: “The council would have to dismiss everyone involved and we don’t think they’ll do that.”