Public sector union Unison has won a landmark victory against a local authority's decision to dismiss 2,500 staff and re-employ them on less favourable terms.
As a result of the tribunal decision, Leicestershire County Council said it might have to pay up to 8m in compensation.
The case was brought by Unison because the authority had failed in its legal duty to consult over plans to dismiss hundreds of the union's members in March 2004.
The council terminated contracts to allow it to impose a new pay system arising out of a job evaluation study.
Unison general secretary, Dave Prentis, said: "This decision tells every council in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, which wants to impose new pay systems without consent, and to cut our members pay in the name of equal value, to back off."