Posted: Thu 4th Apr 2024

Merthyr Tydfil leisure services staff strike over pay dispute /

Some staff in leisure services in Merthyr Tydfil have gone on strike over pay.
Members of the GMB union working in leisure services in Merthyr Tydfil voted unanimously for strike action and went on strike on Wednesday, March 27.
The union said leisure services across the town would be affected, including at the Rhydycar leisure centre which it said had seen another delay for the re-opening of the £6 million swimming pool.
GMB said workers are owed a pay uplift in line with local government staff, following a decade old promise and that the trust’s (Wellbeing Merthyr) failure to honour the commitment of around £1 an hour to staff has led to staff striking for owed pay.
It also said that the council plans to “offload” the leisure trust to a private provider without any consultation.
Gareth Morgans, GMB regional organiser said: “The fact that Merthyr Tydfil council has decided to privatise Rhydycar without any consultation is extraordinary.
“Our members have voted for strike action, and GMB has got their back.
“Between them Merthyr leisure trust and the council must now pay our members what they owed and immediately begin consulting with GMB on their plans to for the service”
Matthew Felton, staff member at Merthyr Leisure trust, said: “GMB members at Merthyr leisure trust have worked hard to get the pool reopened.
“We live in Merthyr Tydfil and are passionate about our jobs and know how much the service is valued by local people.
“Staff have been extremely patient and It’s deeply disappointing that the trust is unable to pay our members the money we are owed.”
In a statement on Wednesday (March 27), the council said: “We are aware that some Wellbeing Merthyr staff are striking today with the support of the GMB Union.
“We would like to point out that some of the information contained on the picket signs is factually incorrect.
“Any payment issues for the employees are solely the responsibility of their employer, which is currently Wellbeing Merthyr.
“Whilst we sympathise with the staff that this is affecting, we must point out that staff and unions need to raise this issue with Wellbeing Merthyr.”
Wellbeing Merthyr has been approached for comment.
In a previous statement on leisure services, the council has said that it has agreed to work with Wellbeing Merthyr to facilitate a managed end of the existing contract for the area’s leisure and cultural services which will see the various facilities return to the council.
It said that due to the end of the current arrangement with Wellbeing Merthyr and being proactive in the need to safeguard leisure services, in January 2024 the council had no choice but to go out to the leisure sector to find an alternative provider to manage the newly refurbished Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Centre for an interim period.
This exercise resulted in three well-established leisure providers applying for the interim leisure operations contract to manage Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Centre.
Following the Covid-19 pandemic Wellbeing Merthyr spent a year presenting a number of redevelopment options for Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Centre, all of which were deemed not adequate for a facility of that size and scope.
The council said that this resulted in the authority deciding to take the lead, securing finance from Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns and Salix funding programmes, as well as commissioning Alliance Leisure to design and manage a fit for purpose redevelopment of the facility.
As of February 2024, the swimming pool facility had now been handed back to the council. Following mandatory testing, recruitment and safety training, the council, in conjunction with the new provider, said it will be in a position to inform residents and the general public of the official opening day. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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