Council leisure employees will lose jobs if Labour implement budget cuts

By Bill Heaney

UNISON has dived in to criticise plans to cuts jobs by the “arm’s length” leisure company which runs sports facilities, including the Meadow Centre on Dumbarton Common and the swimming baths and gym facilities at  the Vale Pool in Alexandria.

West Dunbartonshire Leisure Trust (WDLT), one of many “arms-length” companies formed and facilitated by councils across Scotland, have outlined details of a staffing restructure plan that will result in jobs being cut at the sports development team and the active schools’ group.

Unison – which has been fighting these proposals since they were uncovered last year – have come out strongly against the decision, claiming the planned cuts “will not work”.

A source from the union gave journalists details of the proposed cuts –  the five job losses will be one manager post, two sports development co-ordinator roles, one football development assistant job, and one active school’s co-ordinator.

Unison said: “Our members advise us that this new delivery model will not work.

“Large-scale public events which bring a great deal of prestige and recognition to our area are now in serious jeopardy, staff left behind won’t have the time or the resource.

“Our members also tell us that the organisation will struggle to deliver on its charitable aims as families in need will not have the same access to sport.

“Our members are the experts in their respective roles, but none of them are involved in the team put together by management to access the potential impact under equalities.

“As the team put together does not have adequate depth and breadth of knowledge, as the experts in the building were not involved, there are major concerns with the equalities impact assessment.

“In advance of the meeting UNISON called for the status quo to remain, for all staff to stay put in their positions… this would have allowed for the employer to conduct a proper consultation process including a detailed examination of equalities impact under any future proposal.

“This call to action on WDLT was rebuffed.”

The decision is understood to have been the result of a board meeting held by the directors of WDLT on Thursday, January 19.

In the lead-up to May’s local council elections, the issue of potential job losses within the leisure trust was raised at a hustings meeting, with Labour councillor Martin Rooney, pictured right, alleged to have said at the time: “I would look to reverse it [the restructure].

“I think sports are vital to local people. The next council should be bringing forward a motion to investigate it. I would definitely be happy to revisit that.”

Unison are insisting that the decision to now cut this service’s staffing levels – given it is passed by the council in about two weeks’ time – will have a detrimental impact on the local community.

They added: “Joint Trade union members in West Dunbartonshire Leisure Trust go far over and above their remits when delivering vital public services to our communities – services that our members advise will deteriorate significantly due to these cuts.”

There is already speculation as to how budget cuts will affect the activity level at the recently refurbished – at a cost of around £250,000 – Denny Civic Theatre in Dumbarton Town Centre and events such as the annual Highland Games in Balloch.

Top picture: Labour councillors Martin Rooney, David McBride and Michelle McGinty pictured with swimmers at the Meadow Centre in Dumbarton, where services are now facing the threat of cuts.

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