Sandwell Leisure Trust UNISON members take further strike action in row over contracts

Sandwell Leisure Trust employees to take further strike action in row over contracts, says UNISON

Workers at Portway Lifestyle Centre and Tipton Leisure Centre are to take a further day of strike action on Friday (28 January), in what has become the longest running industrial dispute in Sandwell’s history, says UNISON.

Staff represented by the union voted overwhelmingly to continue their fight against the “fire and rehire” tactics used by their employer Sandwell Leisure Trust.

UNISON says this will lead to staff being given a reduction in pay and will have to work under worse employment conditions after they were forced on to new contracts last March.

Four one-day strikes have already taken place over the past nine months.

UNISON Sandwell branch secretary Tony Barnsley said: “Staff are being fired and rehired against their will and they’re determined to continue their fight against this.

“The trust has £3.5 million in the bank so they can’t justify this as a necessary cost-cutting exercise.

“UNISON, along with other unions, also opposes irresponsible management proposals to include Covid-related absences in sickness targets and absence-management monitoring.

“The danger is that staff are so concerned about running up sick days, they may continue going to work when they should be at home isolating.”

“The workers have made it clear they are determined to continue their action and unless the matter is resolved, could mean disruption to this summer’s Commonwealth Games.”

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “This is no way to treat employees. Sandwell Council must step in to sort out this dispute once and for all and ensure staff are treated properly.”


Notes to editors:

– In March 2021 Sandwell Leisure Trust fired and rehired all 280 staff to remove them from the national NJC negotiating body for pay, terms and conditions.

– UNISON members have undertaken four one-day strikes so far – in April, June, August and December 2021.

– UNISON members at the two leisure centres voted overwhelmingly in favour of continued industrial action over the removal of national pay and conditions.

– Sandwell Aquatic Centre is currently being constructed at the cost of £73million and is due to be a host venue for the Commonwealth Games this summer.

– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

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