HUNDREDS of Wrexham Council workers could face the sack due to a cost-cutting exercise.
Dinner ladies and cleaners working in schools throughout the county borough may be sacked and then offered new contracts which would leave them several hundred pounds worse off.
Union leaders have expressed their disgust at the proposals and believe that the council has itself caused the shortfall in available funds.
It came to light some time ago that the council was in breach of a four-year-old national agreement that employees would have a 37-hour working week.
As Wrexham Council workers were doing 39 hours per week, a substantial amount of back pay had to be found and the workers feel that the council is now trying to take that money back again.
Mark Jones, regional organiser for the GMB union which represents 260 of the employees involved, said: 'Wrexham Council wants to reduce pay and take away the retainer over the summer, which amounts to six weeks' half pay. If agreements are not reached then they will terminate the contracts and issue new ones. The reduction in income will mean that these workers will be hundreds of pounds worse off.
'There are equality issues here as well, as the majority of the employees are female and part-time. It seems totally unjust that because of their own mismanagement the council is punishing the workforce in order to get its money back.
'The workers feel very badly done by and they are angry at the way they have been treated. It may be that we will have to consider legal action against the council and possibly consider industrial action if the members want to do that.'
Wynford Thomas, chief strategic services officer for Wrexham Council, said: 'We wrote to the three unions involved at the beginning of June asking for their views on proposals to solve the funding difficulty which currently falls to the education budget.
'If no response is received we will have little alternative but to report the matter to our executive board for their consideration, but it is premature to speculate on any likely decision.'
In response, Mark Jones said: 'My colleague Dave Cliff replied to the council on June 6, saying that because there were two other unions involved, the TGWU and Unison, we would need to have a joint agreement with them. He expressed his disappointment with these proposals and suggested a joint meeting with all the unions to discuss the situation.'
Dr John Marek, AM for Wrexham. said: 'I have written to the chief executive Isobel Garner and I am expecting her to confirm that the chief strategic services officer has overstepped the mark.
'If this course of action is not illegal, then it is cowboy government of the worst kind. I think it is a disgrace and it shows that the Labour Party do not represent the people any more.'
Ian Lucas, MP for Wrexham, has received written complaints from more than 50 dinner ladies about the situation.
He said: 'It is outrageous that council officers are threatening to dismiss staff in the course of pay negotiations. This type of industrial relations belongs to the 19th century, not the 21st.
'I hope that council members will do some urgent straight talking to officers and sort this one out. I have already written to the chief executive on this and have had what I consider an un-satisfactory response from her.
'I will be pressing for a proper negotiated settlement of this dispute - with no threats.'