An emergency surgery is being held in Plymouth for council employees who are having their salaries cut.
The council said the grading review was not a cost-cutting exercise
Plymouth City Council sent letters to its 10,000 staff on Friday, giving details of the government's national pay and grading review.
About 2,000 workers face salary cuts from September 2010. Some workers said they stand to lose 20% - up to £8,000.
The council said the salaries of 80% of the workforce would either increase or stay the same.
It added those whose salary was to fall would get protected pay for three years to minimise the affect.
It said councils around the country were required to carry out a review to ensure staff were being paid equally for doing work of equal value.
The review was part of a single status agreement between the council and trade unions.
Chief Executive Barry Keel said: "This pay and grading review was a national requirement and has not been a cost cutting exercise for us.
"We value our people immensely and have invested £8.5m in our salary bill to ensure that we pay people fairly and equally."
Mr Keel said affected staff would be offered support, including training opportunities and skills development, if they wanted a change in career.
"We have kept staff informed at every step of the way during this project, which has taken almost two years to complete," he added.
Nicky Williams, a policy advisor at the council, contacted BBC News to say her salary was being cut by £7,606.
However, she will lose most of the money immediately, as she was upgraded unofficially two years ago and her "acting" pay has been removed.
Ms Williams is due to have her second child in April and is currently on maternity leave.
The council has also said her maternity pay is also being recalculated.
"I've had to give notice to my daughter's nursery that she can no-longer continue to attend from April," she said.
"Realistically, I will also have to look for another job at the end of my maternity leave, since I will be unable to afford the child care costs on my new salary.
"It's easy to do the maths. If I'm having to pay £32.50 per day for two children, I'd be working for £5,000.
"I'll be better off taking a low paid evening job at a call centre or supermarket and claiming benefits than I would be working for Plymouth City Council.
"Having worked hard over 10 years or so to build up an expertise as a political advisor at both national and local level, it's a bit of a kick in the teeth to know that I'm likely to have to throw it all that away."
Another council worker, who wished to remain anonymous, told BBC News she was to lose more than £9,000.
"This pay cut means I will be on less than I was before I had a degree for the work I am currently doing," she said.
"Now I'm asking myself if my £12,000 student debt was worth it?"
Trade unions are to carry out a vote of members on the job evaluation process.
Stuart Fegan from the GMB union said it was important to stress that even if members voted to accept the evaluation, anyone affected had the right to appeal.
If accepted, the new grading structure will be implemented by June.
Have you been affected by the pay review? Send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.