Unite the union and Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) have signed a union recognition agreement.
The agreement specifically relates to the leisure contract in the London Borough of Lewisham and follows the awarding of the contract by the council to GLL, after the council ended the contract with Fusion Lifestyle.
The union had made clear to the Labour council that it expected to make union recognition a condition of awarding the contract. Prior to this agreement, GLL has not formally recognised any trade union.
Therefore, this is the first such agreement with the company. Industrial relations between the company and the union have at times been poor – including eight months of industrial action in Bromley.
The agreement in Lewisham will put in place a dispute process to ensure attempts at dispute resolution before industrial action.
Recognition in Lewisham will include provisions for negotiation, consultation, trade union organisation and access for the trade unions to staff to encourage recruitment into the union and union organisation.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said,“Local authority leisure services, whoever the providers, face dire financial circumstances. It is a matter of public record that we want services in-sourced.
“But where services are outsourced, the minimum requirement must be that trade unions are recognised. That is why we have worked so hard to come to this agreement with GLL,” he added.
“This should now be seen as a positive example across the leisure industry, including for the likes of companies such as Fusion Lifestyle whose attitude towards Unite has been nothing short of hostile and aggressive.
“Leisure services are going to be key in dealing with the impact of the coronavirus,” Kasab continued. “Local government gyms, as opposed to commercial gyms, are not just about lifting heavy weights. They play a key Wellness role, linking with health services.
“We see this agreement as a huge step forward, achieved through years of campaigning and yet another example of the positive benefit of Unite membership.”
By Shaun Noble