Belfast City Council must reverse threats to Ballysillan and Shankill swimming pools

052Outsourced management company, Greenwich Leisure Limited, plan to close Shankill pool

Staffing cuts planned at Ballysillan will force part of pool to be roped off meaning unsafe access for junior swimmers

June 21st: Unite Regional Officer, Michael Keenan, has called on Belfast City Council to put an end to threats hanging over pools at Shankill and Ballysillan Leisure Centres.

“In order to implement an austerity budget which will see £2 million cut from leisure services across the city, Belfast City Council has outsourced management to Greenwich Leisure Limited.

“Unite has repeatedly warned about the health and safety impact of staff cuts and management corner-cutting at the various centres across the city. We have also expressed concerns that changes to the services provided at leisure centres will result in deprived communities losing access to local facilities and reduce activity levels among the disadvantaged.

“The management company now plans further attacks on our remaining pools. At Ballysillan Leisure Centre, they want to cut poolside staffing to such an extent that union representatives have been told they will need to rope off of part of the pool to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations.

“We are concerned that this will mean that younger users and those who are not experienced will find it more difficult to enter the pool safely.

“The outsourced management company is also in discussions with Belfast City Council on proposals that will see the closure of the swimming pool in Shankill Leisure Centre.

“It seems that the overarching priority for management is to lower costs regardless of the impact it has on access for those coming from some of the most deprived areas of this city. Greenwich Leisure Limited already operate a two-tier workforce and employ a growing number of casual workers in order to minimise workers’ pay but have no issue with paying their Managing Director more than £193,000 – significantly more than the Prime Minister – while hiding behind a mutual status.

“Unite is calling on Belfast City Council to return leisure centres to democratic  management and accountability ensuring that staff receive decent pay and defending access to quality, local leisure amenities for all”, Mr Keenan concluded.

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