Dozens of Brighton and Hove City Council staff held a protest outside Hove Town Hall this afternoon (Thursday 24 January).
They fear that cuts to allowances for working at weekends and unsocial hours will mostly affect low-paid staff.
He said that in recent years the unions had started talks on three occasions but each time the council walked away.
Staff came together from East Sussex County Council, Brighton Borough Council and Hove Borough Council.
The protest was held outside the town hall before a meeting of the council’s Policy and Resources Committee.
The committee was being asked to allow chief executive Penny Thompson, the director of adult social care Denise D’Souza and Finance Director Catherine Vaughan to impose a deal if talks fail.
The goal is to reach agreement or impose a deal within two months and make the relevant changes by October.
A report to councillors said: “The current system of allowances is historic, complex and no longer fit for purpose.”
Mr Knutsen said that Unison and the GMB were happy to talk but wanted to reach an agreement rather than have it imposed by diktat.
He said: “That would mean they sack people and engage them on new terms effectively.
“If they want to talk we will. What we won’t do is sit down with a gun at our heads.”