Pricing policy under Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) pricing low-income communities out of ‘centres of excellence’
GLL two-tier workforce policy threatens continued T&Cs downgrading for former Belfast City Council employees
April 6th: Unite Regional Officer, Michael Keenan, spoke ahead of his union’s participation in a United Workers march at 1pm on Saturday.
“Since Belfast City Council outsourced management of its leisure centres to Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), there has been an unceasing assault on the quality and accessibility of services, and the jobs and terms & conditions of the workers who deliver them.
“Outsourcing to GLL was always about lowering costs. It was about getting GLL to do the council’s dirty work. The unions, Unite and NIPSA, have fought to protect our members terms and conditions under difficult circumstances. We have tried to work with GLL bosses to protect leisure services and the high standards of service to the public, but this has constantly been undermined by cost cutting and the creation of a two tier workforce. GLL want to undermine our members’ terms and conditions and replace them with cheap labour.
“Since the handover we have lost 118 former Belfast City Council workers – replaced by casual and poorly-paid workers employed on GLL contracts. Now we face losing another 49 positions. It is clear that all former Belfast City Council employees face a prolonged stagnation in wages due to a two-tier workforce. It’s time to fightback.
“The impact of outsourcing on the communities around the leisure centres has also been disastrous. Due to a series of above-inflation price hikes, working-class communities – those who need to access health & fitness services most – are increasingly priced out. Instead we’re seeing millions invested by the council in ‘centres of excellence’ which are fast becoming the exclusive preserve of the well-to-do.
“What’s more due to management corner-cutting on every conceivable job and duty – the support staff to assist those with disabilities or needing assistance are just not there.
“The workers and their unions, Unite and NIPSA, have decided to launch our fightback starting with this United Workers march. We are demanding that Belfast City Council take back control of its leisure services and ensure that efficiencies are not off the backs of workers or through corner-cutting on services – or through price hikes that exclude working-class communities.
“We will be gathering for a United Workers March on Saturday [April 7th] with leisure workers gathering outside both Falls and Shankill Leisure Centres at 1pm to hear workforce and union speakers. The workers will then march from both centres to the peacelines on Northumberland Street where we’ll hear what the politicians have to say.
“This is only the first step in our campaign to bring leisure services back into publicly-accountable management. We are marching for decent jobs and to keep our leisure centres at the heart of our community”, Mr Keenan said.
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