EMPLOYEES at Gwynedd Council have been left reeling after a letter sent by the authority to them stated that they must accept changes to their contracts or risk losing their jobs.

Around 6,000 members of staff are believed to have received the letter, which stated that “no changes” would be made to their roles, pay grade, location or service.

However, they would have to volunteer to sign the new contract or face being sacked on June 30.

The letter read: “If you decide not to volunteer to accept the new contract of employment, or fail to respond to this letter, then it is important that you understand the consequences of your decision.”

The council has since apologised for the tone of the letter and has attempted to give a further explanation to its employees.

“The council is contacting all members of staff as soon as possible to apologise for the tone of the previous letter sent to them regarding local conditions of service,” a spokesman said.

“We accept that the original letter may have caused concern and apologise to anyone who feels that the tone and the choice of words used were threatening.

“The first letter was an attempt to clearly explain the implications of not accepting the new terms offered by the council,”

the spokesman added.

The council also said that it “did not wish to see anyone losing their job as a result of the changes”.

The proposal states that they want to make changes to unsocial hours payments for employees working at night, affecting cleaners, carers, leisure centre workers and others.

The on-call supplement for outside of normal hours would be slashed by £65 per week.

The move has caused panic amongst staff who fear they will shortly be losing their jobs and unions say the council’s lowest-paid members will be hit hardest by the proposed changes.

Cllr. Sion Jones, who represents Bethel, is one of the staff who has campaigned against the letter in a bid to defend employee rights.

“If the council officials decide to threaten staff by telling them that they will be sacked if they don’t agree with new work conditions and think they can just get away with the wording of it, they are wrong.” Cllr. Jones said.

“My message is clear, Gwynedd Council staff are not just a number. We are all huge contributors towards the success of our services and communities. We will therefore not accept a half-hearted apology.”

Hywel Williams MP has also been campaigning for a full apology from the council, alongside Liz Saville-Roberts MP.

“We are concerned at the loaded offer to accept these terms voluntarily, when the only apparent alternative is the termination of employment.” A joint statement by the pair read.

“We realise that Gwynedd Council has to provide a fair warning when such changes as these are made but strongly believe further steps must be taken before any threats to job security are made.

“We are therefore calling on both Gwynedd Council and the Unions to get together to reach a sustainable solution which does not put people’s livelihoods at risk.’”

The joint trade unions – GMB, UNISON and UNITE have condemned the proposals.

They have written to the Council registering a formal dispute and requesting that it refers the matter to the Joint Council for Wales Joint Secretaries.