Croydon’s leisure centres face the prospect of closure on Thursday (10 July) when nearly 50 staff strike in a dispute over cost cutting of staff pay by their private sector employer.
The 48 recreation assistants, and fitness and swimming instructors – members of Unite, the country’s largest union – are taking strike action against Fusion Leisure, the company awarded the contract to run leisure centres in the borough.
The strike runs from 00.01 on Thursday until 00.01 on Friday – and Unite warned that the further industrial action could be on the cards.
Unite claims that the company is saving money by employing a ‘multi-tier’ workforce. This means that workers doing exactly the same job are paid at varying rates and have different basic terms and conditions.
This is despite the fact that when Croydon borough council awarded the contract in 2007 to Fusion Leisure it was on the basis of a single tier work force.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “It is fitting that Fusion workers will be taking strike action on the same day as thousands of local government workers across the country will demonstrate over low pay.
“The borough’s leisure centres face closure on Thursday and this debacle at Fusion is an example of what happens when councils privatise services.
“We call on Croydon council to intervene and tell Fusion to start treating its workers with fairness, not contempt.”
Unite is now preparing a London-wide campaign in defence of leisure workers claiming that in company after company the same poor employment practises exist.
The union points to Greenwich Leisure, which runs a number of leisure centres across the capital, using zero hour contracts for two thirds of its staff – yet the company claims to be a ‘social enterprise’.
Onay Kasab added: “Our aim is to bring workers in this industry together to fight a joint campaign to expose these extremely shabby employment practises. The Croydon Fusion campaign has really lit a spark. It is time for fairness in the workplace for leisure centre workers”
For further information please contact Unite regional officer Onay Kasab on 07771 818637 and/or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940 and/or the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.
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• Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.