A union is calling for a boycott of leisure centres run for Greenwich Council in a dispute over libraries in neighbouring Bromley.
Unite is asking users not to sign up for membership plans or pay to use centres operated by Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) – which trades as Better – to support 50 staff in Bromley who have been on strike since 6 June over pay and conditions.
GLL, a not-for-profit organisation which was formed out of Greenwich Council’s leisure department in 1993 and still has two Greenwich councillors on its board, now runs leisure centres in 16 London boroughs, and libraries in three – Greenwich, Bromley and Wandsworth.
Unite, which is asking users to boycott the company’s centres, accuses GLL of not filling vacant posts in Bromley libraries since the contract began in November 2017; asking staff to be managers without paying the proper rate for the job; and failing to pay wages owed. GLL has called the boycott “self-defeating”.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “The call for the London-wide boycott of GLL leisure centres is aimed at putting pressure where it hurts – in the company’s coffers – to achieve a resolution of the Bromley library dispute.
“We argue that every penny that goes to GLL, generated by its money-spinning activities at its leisure centres, helps it to win further library contracts which then results in a serious erosion of library services for both users and staff.
“Our Bromley library members have been on continuous strike since 6 June and have received fantastic support from the public who are refusing to enter the libraries in a great show of support.”
Demonstrations took place in Woolwich on Friday, and another is planned for Charlton Lido this Friday.
A GLL spokesperson told 853: “We urge Unite to call off their futile strike in Bromley which is has demonstrably failed to disrupt a much-loved public service.
“There will be little public sympathy for their industrial action when librarians have received this year’s pay award and we have already identified the three vacancies in the borough that need filling.
“Boycotting other GLL venues is self-defeating. Because GLL is a not-for-profit charitable social enterprise, everything we do is for all the benefit of local communities, keeping valued facilities open – not closed.
“We are happy to resume negotiations with the union on condition they agree to meet the standards and performance we have committed to delivering as part of a modern public library service.”
Despite having two of its Labour councillors, Peter Brooks and Adel Khaireh, on GLL’s board, Greenwich Council declined to comment.
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