The workers union NIPSA has been in “negotiations” since August which have failed to achieve any concessions from the council. The reasons for the job losses though have nothing to do with the refurbishment programme as there are other leisure facilities within the council boundaries where staff could be temporarily located to.
Copies of the Business Plan and Economic Appraisal have been requested and refused. Following a protest by some staff and supporters at a recent monthly council meeting a number of councillors had agreed to raise the matter and press for a special meeting but following the “closed” session of the council on that night the decision was to throw out NIPSA’s request.
The underhand tactics used by management have been nothing short of disgraceful and they have totally lost the respect of the entire workforce. After being spied on by management at the protest meeting one full time permanent swimming rota supervisor worker was told he would do better to show a good example to management by going home to prepare for his interview for a part-time council yard job than going out to a protest. He was one of three applicants for the part-time council yard vacancy.
It is difficult to cut across the “old boy network” that exists in local government. Staff are in fear of speaking out against management as they are hoping that a last minute reprieve will save some of their jobs. However, with the centre due to close on 23rd November, this is looking increasingly unlikely. NIPSA has written to each member of the council seeking to address the next council meeting. But workers cannot rely on councillors who have voted through cuts and job losses. If Magherafelt Council gets away with cutting jobs at Greenvale leisure centre, then all services are under threat of job cuts. The unions must respond to attacks on jobs and public services with determination and strength, campaigning together with local communities affected by cuts and taking industrial action involving all council staff where necessary.
None of the parties on the council represent the needs of workers. They are all involved in cutting public services and destroying much needed jobs. Workers need a political alternative which can defend public services and jobs. The unions should get behind candidates who are prepared to stand against the cuts agenda of the main parties on the council.