Outsourced Belfast City Council leisure workers protest at city hall for redundancy rights

Kieran Molloy, Unite Rep, Belfast City Council (writing in a personal capacity)

A protest was held 2 November at the front of Belfast City Hall against the continuous attacks by Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) on the jobs and terms and conditions of leisure centre workers. The latest threats were to make as many as 40 workers redundant. GLL are predictably using the Covid crisis as cover in their relentless attempts to get rid of those workers who were transferred over from the city council and who still have some protection of their employment rights under TUPE legislation. They want to have as many of their workers employed as casuals as they can. In this they are disgracefully supported by the main parties in the council, particularly the DUP and Sinn Fein.

If GLL continue with their plans the trade unions Unite and NIPSA need to develop a vigorous campaign in defence of the workers. As a start they need to force the council to make GLL open their books so that we can see where they stand. GLL claim that they face a £4 million deficit, in spite of the furlough scheme and other subsidies from the city council. Unite in London, where workers have been involved in long-running industrial action with this ‘social enterprise’, is campaigning for the accounts of GLL to be open for public scrutiny.

Return Leisure services from the outsourcing companies!

Leisure needs to be taken back in-house by the council to safeguard jobs and for a high quality and affordable service for the people of Belfast. This will only come about through a campaign by Unite and NIPSA within the city council and linking up with workers in London to expose GLL.

The successful protest which was organised at short notice, involved reps and full-time officers from UNITE and NIPSA, People Before Profit and members of Militant Left in Belfast. Our new banner was unveiled for the first time on the protest. People Before Profit councillors put forward a motion condemning GLL to the council meeting that evening.

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