Lifeguards at Blackburn and Darwen leisure centres have suspended strike action this weekend in the dispute over cutting their wages by up to £3,000-a-year as ‘a goodwill gesture’ before talks on Monday (24 February).

The 14 lifeguards, employed by Blackburn and Darwen borough council, suspended four days of strike action, due to have started today (Friday 21 February) and end on Monday, prior to talks brokered by the conciliation service Acas.

The dispute centres on a decision which will see the lifeguards employed on a lower grade which will result in an up to £3,000-a-year pay loss from 2021 – and follows a job evaluation process and a ‘flawed’ appeals hearing.

Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union which represents the lifeguards, was critical of the appeals process and said the council was acting as ‘judge and jury’ in slashing the lifeguards’ pay.

The talks follow nine days of strike action since the new year by the lifeguards who are responsible for the safety of people in the swimming pools at Blackburn Sports and Leisure Centre and Darwen Leisure Centre.

Unite regional officer Tanya Sweeney said:  “We are meeting with the council, under the auspices of Acas, on Monday in a bid to resolve the dispute. We are very concerned that the council has acted as ‘judge and jury’ in this matter.

“The lifeguard role was evaluated 10 years ago and the job has not changed, so cutting pay is unfair and unjust.

“The lifeguards would like to thank the public for all the support they have had during this dispute.

“As a gesture of goodwill, they have suspended four days of strike action from today so that customers, who were disappointed not to have access to the pools during the strike days, are able to use them this weekend.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065

Email: [email protected]

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.