Aneurin Bevan Leisure Trust staff in libraries, entertainment venues, parks and leisure centres across Blaenau Gwent are being balloted for strike action by their trade unions after rejecting a below inflation pay offer, equivalent to half a percent across twelve months.
Receptionists, caterers, lifeguards, librarians and others working for Aneurin Leisure Trust also did not receive a pay rise in the previous year. The Trust’s offer of one per cent for the period between October 2018 and April 2019, rather than a full twelve months, has already been dismissed by employees as ‘insulting’. Public services union, UNISON, has reported low pay at Aneurin Leisure means some staff have resorted to using food banks.
Libraries, leisure, adult education, entertainment venues and parks were transferred from Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council employment to the Trust in 2014. Despite unrelenting government cuts to local councils, directly employed Blaenau Gwent authority staff received a below inflation award of two per cent pay increase this year, which itself is effectively a pay cut in real terms.
The joint trades unions, UNISON, GMB and Unite have called upon Aneurin Leisure Trust to return to negotiations with a substantially improved pay offer.
Ian Robins, UNISON Blaenau Gwent branch secretary said,
“The unions asked Aneurin Leisure Trust to give their workers a pay rise in parity with the local authorities across Wales. Instead of looking after their greatest asset, the staff, the Trust Board has decided to hugely over inflate their senior management team on large salaries and invest in gimmicks such as perk box offering money off vouchers which does not put food on our members tables.
“Had staff continued to be employed by the council their pay rise this year would have been two per cent. Why should they be penalised for having been transferred to the Trust? Bizarrely, during negotiations the Trust turned down an offer of financial help from Blaenau Gwent council that would have mitigated any kind of industrial action.”
Rosie Lewis, UNISON Cymru Wales regional organiser said,
“Blaenau Gwent is one of the UK’s poorest regions and the directors of Aneurin Leisure Trust – all of whom live outside the area – have suppressed employee wages. Some staff are so desperate they have been forced to use foodbanks.
“The Trust is wasting money with a bloated executive management structure and the use of consultants. There’s no sense the trustees and directors value their employees. We believe the Trust can afford to give our members a better pay offer and we urge them to get back to negotiations to find an acceptable way forward.”
Notes for editors
- UNISON is balloting employees at Aneurin Leisure Trust for industrial action and action short of strike action. Ballot papers were sent out on Friday 28 September and the ballot is due to close two weeks later. GMB and Unite are also consulting their members
- The trade unions commenced negotiations with Aneurin Leisure Trust for a cost of living pay rise for all staff in January.
- The offer to boost pay by just one per cent for the period between October 2018 and April 2019 rather than a full twelve months is equivalent to 0.5 per cent over twelve months
- UNISON members have already rejected the Trust’s offer by more than 90 per cent in a ballot
- Aneurin Leisure Trust has four directors, including a HR director for 200 staff. By contrast, Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council employs 3,000 people and does not have a HR director. The Trust started with one director and has brought in an additional three in three years.
Rosie Lewis, UNISON regional organiser 07950 888 963