A council embroiled in a bitter dispute over pay and conditions, which has sparked a series of strikes, has said that virtually all of its staff had signed new terms.

Southampton city council said it was pleased to announce that more than 98% of its employees have agreed to new pay, terms and conditions which came into effect on Monday.

“Meanwhile the council is actively seeking new talks with trade unions in an attempt to end industrial action. Trade unions have indicated that they would be prepared to negotiate and we are confident that by working together we can end this dispute, get the best deal for staff and get back to work providing excellent services for our residents.

“The council will do all it can to collect as many bins in the city as possible this week, with up to 10 trucks collecting rounds,” the authority said in a statement.

Hundreds of council staff have taken industrial action in the past six weeks, including refuse collectors and social workers.

Port health officers joined the industrial action yesterday, while Unison and Unite are planning a protest in the city on Wednesday to co-incide with a meeting of the full council.

Unison today accused the council of forcing workers to accept a pay cut, while telling the government it expected to put more than £4 million into its reserves.

General secretary Dave Prentis said: “The council has painted a bleak picture to employees, at the same time as giving the government figures showing they expect the reserves to rocket.

“Pay cuts and job losses will pile misery on to thousands of council workers and their families, at a time of rising inflation. It is clear that these punitive measures are just not necessary.

“We are calling for the council to publish the 2010/11 financial report immediately and put a stop to these savage cuts.”

Unite claimed the council had drawn up plans to sack a quarter of its 4,300-strong workforce over the next three years.

The union said it had seen a “devastating” report setting out the authority’s budget and spending priorities until 2015, including setting aside £5 million a year from 2012 to 2014 for redundancies.