Lewisham leisure workers in strike threat

Lewisham leisure workers vote for strike action at Greenwich Leisure Limited over back pay owed

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Social enterprise Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) has been given ‘a reasonable timeframe’ to sort out the pay issues of its Lewisham leisure staff, such as failure to pay wages owed and redundancy enhancements –  or face strike action.

Unite the union members at the five leisure centres voted by 94 per cent for strike action.  Following talks GLL now needs to come good on its commitments to resolve the outstanding issues.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “For far too long Greenwich Leisure Limited has had a poor reputation as a bad and exploitative employer.

“Unite will throw all its resources into this campaign to ensure GLL treats all its employees with dignity and respect,” she added. “All this employer has to do is pay the workers the money they are owed.”

Unite says that it is only asking for its members to receive what they are rightly owed. There are members with outstanding pay queries and some whose redundancy pay has been wrongly calculated. The union is also pressing to ensure that when workers return from furlough, they are offered the same hours that they were working before furlough.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said,  “We had a constructive meeting with the employers following the ballot. A way forward has been agreed, including strengthening the recognition agreement so that future problems can be resolved earlier.

“But let us be clear – a constructive meeting only took place once our members made clear that they are prepared to strike. We are giving GLL a reasonable timeframe to rectify all the issues – otherwise strike action remains very much on the cards.”

The issues include the failure to pay wages owed; failure to pay annual leave owed; unilateral changes to hours; reduction in hours as a result of the closure of the Bridge Leisure Centre; failure to pay contractual redundancy enhancements; and failure to abide by contractual terms and conditions.

The centres are Wavelengths Leisure Centre; Forest Hill Pools; Glass Mill Leisure Centre; Ladywell Arena and The Bridge Leisure Centre (which never reopened after the first lockdown as Lewisham council deemed it as too expensive to do so).

By Shaun Noble

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