The council has denied claims it will ‘fire and rehire’ staff as part of plans to save millions of pounds this year.

Green councillor Rob White raised concerns at last night’s meeting to approve the council’s budget that Reading Borough Council (RBC) is planning to reduce its staff’s pay and conditions such as overtime and pay protection.

He said: “This is no way to thank people who have put their lives on the line during the pandemic”.

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At the meeting, the council approved the new budget for 2021/22, including a 4.99 per cent increase in council tax and £15 million of savings.

Cllr White said the cuts to terms and conditions will worsen staff morale causing experienced staff to leave and more agency staff will be needed.

In a business case document written by a council officer, it is suggested the council “will have to terminate employees’ contracts and re-engage them on a new contract with varied times” because recent negotiations have been unsuccessful.

Reading Chronicle:

Cllr White said this is like “negotiating with a loaded gun on the table” and asked the council to “remove fire and rehire from its budget plan”

But RBC's Labour-led leadership has denied it has any plans to ‘fire and rehire’ staff.

Councillor Jason Brock, leader of the council, said: “No-one is going to be sacked over terms and conditions.”

Cllr Jason Brock, leader of RBC

Cllr Jason Brock, leader of RBC

He said the council was not voting to make policy on officers’ narratives and “any change to terms and conditions would require a future report and discussion”.

Councillor Ellie Emberson, lead member for Corporate and Consumer Services, said the ‘fire and rehire’ suggestion is simply a “council officer narrative”.

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She said: “There will be a process with trade unions and it is not proposed that the council will end negotiations”.

And she added that additional annual leave and more flexible working  are some of the new benefits planned for staff.

The Labour Party’s leader Keir Starmer has called for ‘fire and rehire tactics’ to be outlawed.