Leisure centre workers in Lewisham threaten to strike over redundancy pay

Lewisham: Glass Mill Leisure Centre

Workers in public leisure centres in Lewisham are threatening to strike over alleged failures by management to pay redundancy payments and wages owed during lockdown.

The row centres around five centres – : Wavelengths Leisure Centre; Forest Hill Pools; Glass Mill Leisure Centre; Ladywell Arena and The Bridge Leisure Centre – which closed during lockdown.

Workers there say they have been left in limbo after being furloughed, with some being owed redundancy payments and others being owed wages.

The leisure centres have now reopened and are once again operating with Covid guidelines for the public.

Unite the Union, dedicated to defending and improving members’ jobs, pay and conditions balloted members with 94 per cent voting for strike action. 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “For far too long Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) 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.  All this employer has to do is pay the workers the money they are owed.”

Unite The Union want GLL to pay off monies owed to their furloughed workers. They also claim that some redundancy payments have been wrongly calculated. The Union is also pressuring GLL to ensure workers are offered the same hours that they were working before furlough.

TheUnite 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.”

Unite says that GLL must pay wages owed; pay annual leave owed; stop making unilateral changes to hours as a result of the closures; pay contractual redundancy enhancements; and to abide by contractual terms and conditions.

A spokesperson for GLL told The News Shopper: “Following what we considered to be a constructive and positive meeting with a UNITE representative last week, we were disappointed to read the statement issued by the Union yesterday.

“We believe it to be misleading and does not represent a true and accurate position. 

“In fact the UNITE Union balloted its members without any meaningful or formal discussion with us about the issues, which is not in accordance with an agreed disputes procedure we already have in place.

“Once they balloted they also failed to respond to our requests to clarify their issues. At a meeting last week with UNITE they subsequently raised additional issues relating to the pay of a small number of staff. 

“We are investigating these new claims.”

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