The chequered employment relations of controversial social enterprise Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) are again under the spotlight as employees at leisure centres in Lewisham are being balloted for strike action over pay issues, such as failure to pay wages owed and redundancy enhancements.

Unite the union has been campaigning for some time over GLL’s management of its contracts in London – the most high profile case was the Bromley libraries’ dispute.

A total of 31 Unite members at the five leisure centres will be balloted for strike action – the ballot opens on Friday 27 August and closes on Monday 27 September.

The issues are: the failure to pay wages owed; failure to pay annual leave owed; unilateral changes to hours; reduction in hours as a result of the closure of the Bridge Leisure Centre; failure to pay contractual redundancy enhancements; and failure to abide by contractual terms and conditions.

The centres are Wavelengths Leisure Centre; Forest Hill Pools; Glass Mill Leisure Centre; Ladywell Arena and The Bridge Leisure Centre (which never reopened after the first lockdown as Lewisham council deemed it as too expensive to do so).

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) has ‘form’ in showing themselves to be no different to any other private sector employer.  The Bromley library dispute being the most prominent GLL one that Unite was involved with.

The ‘worker-led social enterprise’ mask has slipped dramatically again. We have previously publicly stated that there is an over reliance by GLL on casual, zero hour contracts, but the company has denied this.

“Yet, when returning from furlough, Lewisham leisure staff are now being told that their regular hours will change – and the managers are treating permanent staff as though they are on zero hour contracts.

“The closure of the Bridge Leisure Centre was a huge blow. In addition to the impact on staff, there is the detrimental effect on the community. This includes schools and charities who relied on the services at the centre to assist and help disabled children.

“The answer is staring Lewisham council in the face - take the service back in-house – it would be the best for all concerned the council taxpayer, the public and the staff.”

ENDS 

Notes to editors:

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