Strong public support for strike at picket lines on all eleven former Belfast City Council managed leisure centres

Davy Edmont

Industrial action follows 97% ballot vote by UNITE members to defend right of young and new employees to full pension and to secure safe staffing levels

Union official blasts ‘inappropriate’ intervention of Belfast City Council officer briefing against workforce on behalf of private management company, Greenwich Leisure Ltd

May 24th: Davy Edmont, Unite officer for workers at Belfast City Council’s eleven Leisure Centres reported strong levels of public support for the strike action taken by his members:

“Despite our opposition and concerns over the involvement of a private company in our municipal amenities, Unite has sought to work constructively with Belfast City Council on their outsourcing of the management of leisure facilities to Greenwich Leisure Ltd.

“Our members were guaranteed that pay and pensions would not be affected by the TUPE transfer and that these would extend to any new staff taken on. Despite these assurances, GLL initially denied casual workers access to even a basic private sector pension, let alone the automatic enrolment in the NILGOSC pension which was agreed between all parties.

“The original agreement was for full NILGOSC pension contributions for all workers to be underwritten by Belfast City Council. GLL has failed to abide by the terms of that agreement. Unite members have today taken their first one-day strike action to demand young new employees have the same pension rights and to ensure adequate staffing levels, by appropriately trained workers, across all Leisure Centres.

“Support for this strike from the general public has been overwhelming and this industrial dispute looks likely to escalate with members of other unions seeking to join Unite the union’s action.

“Our members have been deeply angered by the revelation that the Director of City and Neighbourhoods at Belfast City Council issued a memorandum which was effectively a briefing on behalf of the private sector management company Greenwich Leisure Ltd. This was completely inappropriate and has compromised the independence of Belfast City Council in the dispute.

“Despite this unhelpful intervention, Unite is calling for both GLL and Belfast City Council to honour their commitments on pensions and to provide safe staffing levels in order to avoid further action and disruption”, Mr Edmont concluded.

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