Union members at a housing association are considering taking strike action over proposed pay cuts.
One Housing Group, which provides housing, care and support across London and the south east, consulted 250 of its 1,000 staff and asked them to accept pay cuts of up to £8,000, with the pay cut taking effect in February 2014.
But staff rejected the proposals in two separate ballots with 89 per cent and 93 per cent voting against, according to the union Unite.
One Housing Group is a charitable industrial and provident society and is considered an exempt charity by the Charity Commission because it is regulated by the Financial Services Authority.
The management at the housing association later wrote to staff to tell them they must accept the pay cut or face having their employment terminated and then being re-hired on inferior terms, Unite said.
But the proposed pay cut has caused anger at the housing association which, Unite claims, has increased the salary of chief executive Mick Sweeney by £31,000 to £176,000 a year.
Unite, which has 100 members at One Housing Group, called the cuts an "appalling, cynical decision".
Nicky Marcus, regional officer at Unite, said: "Unite is disgusted at One's decision to hold its staff and their families to ransom at Christmas or indeed at any other time – loyal staff who look after the most vulnerable in society and deserve to be respected and treated with dignity and decency by their employers."
The union said it would be holding further meetings with its members in which all options would be considered "including industrial action".
But the housing association said the pay cuts were needed to protect jobs in the long term. It said it had carried out an "exhaustive" two-month consultation process over pay in which the majority of its 1,000 staff would see either a pay rise or no change.
Kevin Beirne, group director of housing at One Housing Group, said: "We are very disappointed at the way in which Unite are now seeking to portray One Housing Group.
"We have asked staff to sign up to this long-term deal which safeguards their continued employment and the delay in issuing letters is solely as a result of providing them with two extra months for consultation."