Middlesbrough Council wants to save £180,000 by transferring workers to private companies
Fears contract changes will erode working rights for cleaners have sparked calls for council leaders to think again.
Middlesbrough Council is asking the public what it thinks of budget proposals lined up after April.
But plans to put its cleaning service contracts out to tender have triggered outcry from union UNISON and the opposition Labour group.
UNISON claims 140 workers have been told their jobs are to be transferred to a number of private companies next year in a bid to save the council about £180,000.
Northern regional secretary Clare Williams hit out at the move.
She added: “These outsourcing plans are morally indefensible and little more than a legal way to cut the wages of the council’s lowest paid employees in future.
“Privatising contracts in this way is simply a false economy.
“The council already has a poor track record of privatising contracts and has been forced in the past to bring them back in-house when things don’t work out.”
Protests were held outside Middlesbrough Town Hall in December on the back of fears for the cleaners.
Cllr Matt Storey, leader of the Labour group, joined in the protests and worried workers would lose out.
He added: “We must protect people who are on the lowest wages and who deliver essential services.
“Outsourcing and privatisation have been proved to fail, costing the taxpayer more and delivering a poor standard of service - as well as jeopardising the working conditions and pensions of staff.
“Often these are the unsung heroes of the council and we will not abandon them.
“We are calling on Andy Preston to remove these cuts from his budget.”
Middlesbrough Council is facing a £4.4m black hole in its budget for April - mainly due to pressures and demand on its children’s services.
The proposal to outsource to private firms came after a council report also suggested a second cost-cutting option to cut cleaners’ hours by 30% and ask council staff to clean their own desks and communal kitchens.
Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston welcomed the feedback offered up so far.
He added: “We’re in the middle of the biggest ever public consultation over our budget and services, so I very much encourage members of the public and those in local politics to give their opinions on what they think is important.
“Once the consultation period ends, I will assess all of the input and feedback and make formal proposals from there - so thank you to all those who’ve taken time to take part in the consultation.”
Views on the budget can be submitted to the council until January 31.