Union bosses have warned that schools in Moray could grind to a halt amid frozen ice and snow if proposed pay changes to janitorial staff go ahead.
Employees are currently in talks with the council about possible changes to how overtime is paid.
School janitors currently receive an annual payment to cover 150 hours of overtime with staff working through the time during the year by performing out-of-hour duties.
Moray Council has opened talks about getting rid of the contractual payment, which union officials say totals “several thousand pounds” in some instances, to replace it with a voluntary standby system – but no final decision has been made.
However, it is feared the potential change could leave the region’s 53 schools in the lurch if janitors choose not to take up overtime duties.
John Boland, regional officer for union Unite, said the changes could have “serious implications” for education services.
He said: “It’s not just the impact on janitors but on schools as a whole. At this time of year, janitors spend time clearing snow and ice outside to make sure it is safe for pupils and staff to get in but there are also situations where buildings need to be opened earlier or kept open late.
“This is a significant amount of money for some staff. If it’s taken away it could cost a loss of goodwill but we also have serious concerns about the risk it will create for staff and pupils.
“It’s a badly thought out proposal. It needs to the rethought to put the welfare of school communities first before financial savings.”
Moray Council is currently preparing financial plans to make savings amid projections that budgets will have to be reduced by about £10million next year.
Warnings have been made that every service provided by the authority will have to be examined as part of the process.
Moray Council has stressed it continues to be in negotiations with janitors in an effort to resolve the issues.
A spokeswoman said: “The consultation process is still live, so it would be inappropriate to comment on the specifics of the proposals.
“We continue to work closely with trade unions, following the established consultation arrangements.”