Land Rover was plunged into turmoil last night when workers at the Solihull car maker balloted for strike action.
Company bosses immediately condemned the move claiming a strike could jeopardise Land Rover's future as a top plant in Ford's worldwide empire.
The unions claimed management had misjudged the situation and voiced hopes that the company would now re-open talks to head-off a potential crisis which started with the rejection of a two-year pay offer worth 6.5 per cent.
Steve Coultate, Land Rover's director of manufacturing, said: 'This move saddens me deeply and industrial action will jeopardise our future as a major plant.'
The result came after a campaign run by shop stewards and the management putting their cases during a postal ballot of 7,000 union members which started on November 28 and ended at noon yesterday.
About 70 per cent of the ballot papers were returned, with around 63 per cent in favour of strike action.
The company has said there would be no further offer of a better pay settlement.
Shop stewards will meet on Monday to discuss what action they will take within 28 days from the declaration of the result yesterday to comply with legislation. They must also give seven days notice to Land Rover before action is taken.
Following the company's final offer, it was made clear to employees that any action would put the business at risk and send a 'negative message to those responsible for determining the site's future'. …