Up to 1,200 electricity workers in Newcastle could strike for ten days in a row over pay.
The workers, members of the Unite and GMB unions, have failed to agree a new pay deal with their employer, private electricity provider NEDL.
The unions say that the average pay deal for the industry is 5.1 percent, and NEDL have only offered 4.5 percent.
Workers have refused to work overtime or out-of-hours since pay talks began.
A strike could go ahead as early as September and could cause chaos to electricity supplies, leaving homes without power across the region.
NEDL and sister company YEDL in Yorkshire provide electricity to around 3.7 million customers.
Kevan Parker, a regional officer for Unite, said, “Although there was a new offer put on the table, an overwhelming 89 percent of staff were not in favour of accepting it.
“We’re currently starting the balloting process for strike action.
“We have figures that show NEDL and YEDL’s profits increased by £30 million, yet staff are the lowest paid in the industry with an average salary of around £22,000.”
Workers are particularly angry over the rate for those who have to work on-call shifts – waiting by the phone for call outs. Workers are paid just £15 for a 15 hour on-call shift – or £1 an hour.