Unite the union and UNISON have today (19 December) confirmed that their respective memberships have voted overwhelmingly to move towards an industrial action ballot at Glasgow Life. Unite members voted by 94 per cent in a consultative ballot to hold an industrial action ballot due to the imposition of changes to working practices, whereas UNISON members voted by 87 per cent. The consultative ballots by both unions covers seven Glasgow Life leisure centres those being the Emirates Arena, Gorbals, Springburn, Tollcross, Bellahouston, Kelvin Hall, and Scotstoun.

Unite and UNISON have repeatedly highlighted a number of failings by Glasgow Life including a lack of due diligence towards the welfare of staff, and a failure to consult with staff through elected safety representatives on changes to working patterns. The imposed changes to the working practices has resulted in inadequate staffing levels to ensure fire safety and staffing of buildings due to increased working hours. Accordingly, Unite has confirmed that it has reported Glasgow Life to the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) for a second time on the basis of these health and safety implications to the public.

There is already a shortage of staff across the service which has resulted in centres being unable to operate. Alongside creating two tiers of staff with different start times, despite all staff being on the same contracts and the requirement for staff to be peripatetic (moved between centres to cover shortages), this will mean that even staff outside of the named sport centres may be required to change their start times.

Wendy Dunsmore, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “The lack of engagement by Glasgow Life illustrates an extremely irresponsible attitude towards staff and public safety. The body is refusing to engage in proper consultation as required by legislation. However, this incident is just the latest failure by Glasgow Life's board of trustees to show good governance. The overwhelmingly support to move towards a ballot for industrial action is a reflection of the anger our members feel at how they have been treated.”

'Work related stress is becoming a serious problem within Glasgow Life. We are now in a situation where there is no oversight or control being exercised by the trustees. This has led to the current breakdown in employment relations. Unite believes that there is a strong case for a full review of the status of Glasgow Life and for the return of the body to full local authority control.”

Christopher Robertson, UNISON Glasgow Life Convenor, said: “Glasgow Life continues to operate and manage staff out with the safe guidance and conditions enjoyed by other council employees, this has been very evident in this so called charitable status employer’s handling of industrial relations. UNISON will resist such an approach. UNISON knows how important these services are to this city so we must protect them and the staff who work so hard to provide them.”

Throughout discussions with Glasgow Life on the topic of opening hoursUNISON have raised concerns regarding the timing of such a change. We are facing epidemic sickness absence issues affecting staff, this additional burden on those staff within Sport is indicative of management’s drive for revenue while ignoring staff morale. The services provided by Glasgow Life are crucial to the economy of our city, Glasgow City Council are going to have decide now whether the service fee allocated is appropriate considering the economic benefit gained.”    


For more information contact Wendy Dunsmore of Unite on (07764655756) or Christopher Robertson of UNISON on (07910113896).