Wales politics

No mince pies for union rep after Cardiff leisure centre row

Christmas mince pie and mulled wine glass Image copyright Thinkstock

A trade union rep has refused the possibility of eating a "Co-op mince pie" at a Christmas reception with the Labour leader of Cardiff council amid a row over leisure centre jobs.

The council gave social enterprise Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) control of leisure centres, upsetting unions.

GMB Branch President Paul Kempton said he was still "very angry" over how staff were treated.

A Cardiff Labour group spokesman has declined to comment.

Cardiff council said all staff employed at the leisure centres have transferred to the new company under the same terms and conditions they had at the council.

'Appalling'

A trade union Christmas reception was being hosted by Cardiff council leader Phil Bale on Tuesday evening.

But in an email in response to an invitation, Mr Kempton suggested the event was a "rushed attempt at repairing relationships, after the debacle of 'GLL'".

"Many of my members face yet another year of uncertainty, whilst this administration dithers and divides, and appears all too happy to accept the Westminster government strictures of austerity," he said in the email, leaked to BBC Wales.

"I am still very angry over the appalling way staff in the leisure centres were treated, so - no thank you - I do not wish to share a seasonal glass of something and a Co-op mince pie."

A statement issued by the GMB back in the summer objected to the way that the decision to outsource jobs was taken at Cardiff council, saying: "This decision to outsource 300 jobs was made by nine people who sit in the cabinet."

The statement included a letter from five unions to the chief executive, Paul Orders, claiming the treatment of staff and unions had been "shocking".

"They have refused us meaningful consultation or time to scrutinise the business cases," the letter read.

'Highly-respected'

A spokesman for Cardiff council said the GLL transfer was not a debacle, as Mr Kempton described it.

He said: "The city council has subsidised leisure facilities to the tune of £2.5m a year. Our budgets continue to be slashed and we have had to look at all our non-statutory services.

"Providing leisure centres is not a statutory obligation.

"This means it's crucial we find new partnerships and new ways of working which can deliver these types of services to the high standard our residents have become accustomed to.

"The new proposed partnership which began on December 1 is with a highly-respected UK company and social enterprise which will ensure that the current subsidy paid by the tax payer will be removed by 2019-20.

"We have ensured that all workers at leisure centres will receive at least the Living Wage as defined by the Living Wage Foundation which is £8.45 an hour.

"All staff employed at the leisure centres have transferred to the new company under the same terms and conditions they enjoyed at the council.

"The Local Government Pension Scheme has also maintained for all existing staff and any new workers employed by the company in the future."

A Labour source said the transfer of leisure centres to an outside body was not unusual and that many authorities "have gone down this road".

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