GLL spin on corner-cutting does not address continued Health & Safety concerns at Belfast Leisure Centres

unite-white-out-of-redOutsourced management company tell press they have fifty-five pool plant operators when there are none remaining

Crisis at pools continues with corner-cutting on staffing leading to continued failure to chlorinate and dangerous practice

Unite Regional Officer, Michael Keenan, responded to recent spin from management company Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) which attempted to deflect public opprobrium for its corner-cutting on staffing and health & safety at Belfast leisure centres.

“Unite members working in municipal leisure facilities in Belfast have repeatedly highlighted their concerns over the Health & Safety impact of corner-cutting by GLL at the behest of Belfast City Council. In the past months, we have highlighted how the Jacuzzi at Avoneil had to be closed after the failure to retain pool plant operators led to legionella spores twenty times the legal limit with the water running green; we have also exposed pools being reopened half full and how pools remained open despite protestations of staff after diarrhoea incidents.

“This is all part of the corner-cutting approach taken by outsourced management company, GLL, on behalf of Belfast City Council. Only today concerned workers contacted us to inform us that the pool in Ballysillan remained open despite their protests while an angle-grinder was used to remove unsafe, and inappropriate, tiles which had been recently installed by management.

“Other incidents of concern in the last couple of months include a week when no cleaning materials were available for workers at Shankill Leisure centre who had to wash down facilities with water and a fortnight at Loughside when heating fuel ran out leaving the pool unheated. It seems there is no limit to the cavalier attitude of GLL to those who use these facilities. Meanwhile Belfast City Council continues to turn a blind eye to what’s going on in their name – all with the overarching aim of driving running costs down.

“In recent days GLL bosses responded to an article which exposed the repeated legionella outbreaks which have forced the closure of facilities at Avoneil by claiming that they weren’t cutting back and had, in fact, increased the number of pool plant operators from 15 to 55. This is complete misrepresentation; before GLL took over Belfast City council amenities there were eight full-time pool plant operators – one based at each pool – who were fully trained specialists; there are now none. The figure being spun by GLL are all those members of staff who have other responsibilities but who have been given three days training and are now meant to take on this role.

“So long as GLL attempts to have chlorination levels maintained on the cheap, the reality is that it will be done sporadically at best. The outcome is an elevated risk of infection by diseases such as legionella and legitimate concern for the health & well-being of users.

“Unite believes that the only way to address the endemic health & safety concerns associated with GLL management is for all the municipal leisure centres in our city to be taken back into democratically-accountable management by Belfast City Council and for an end to the self-defeating cost-cutting”, Mr Keenan said.

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