Low pay rise triggers ballot for strike action at Newport Live

UNISON Newport City branch secretary Peter Garland
Pictured: UNISON Newport City branch secretary Peter Garland

Leisure workers in Newport are to be balloted for strike action as a pay dispute escalates.

UNISON, says employer Newport Live has refused for months to negotiate on pay, despite having a written agreement with the union to do just that.

Newport Live imposed a pay award of 3 per cent from April, significantly below that month’s rate of inflation, 8.7 per cent (Consumer Price Index).

Ballot papers have been dispatched to workers at Newport’s Swimming and Tennis Centre, Velodrome and the Riverside Theatre.

UNISON has accused Newport Live of refusing to listen to the workforce as the union reported 90 per cent of UNISON members  rejected the pay award in an earlier survey.

Staff have told their company rampant inflation is really affecting family budgeting and plunging them into crisis.

A UNISON member working for Newport Live said: “We have had to stop certain clubs for the kids and do not attend social events if we need to spend money.

“We have set strict budgets for the children’s birthdays and Christmas.

“We try not to use the car and have reduced our weekly shopping cutting out treats.”

UNISON Newport City branch secretary Peter Garland (pictured above) said: “Newport Live has no idea of the level of anger they’ve caused by taking their workforce for granted during a cost-of-living crisis.

“Despite rocketing inflation and staff telling them they are struggling they want to bury their heads in the sand and hope it all will go away.

“Staff can’t understand why Newport Live doesn’t want to be seen as an excellent local employer that values its employees and is an organisation people in the community want to work for.

“Time and again, UNISON has asked for meetings to negotiate on pay and find a sensible solution. These requests have been denied.

“Even now, we appeal to Newport Live to sit down with us and hammer out a way forward that suits everyone.”

UNISON has briefed MPs and Members of the Senedd about the nature of the dispute.

Notes for editors

  • UNISON’s industrial action ballot of staff at Newport Live runs from 21 August to 12 September.
  • UNISON submitted its 2023 pay submission to Newport Live in November 2022. The union finally received a response from the employer in April 2023 that it intended to impose a 3 per cent pay award and there would be no negotiations. UNISON then told Newport Live it would consult with staff on the pay ‘offer’.
  • In this consultation survey of staff, 90 per cent of members voted to reject Newport Live’s pay award of 3 per cent and 65 per cent indicated they would vote for industrial action up to and including strike action. This was communicated to the company and UNISON requested a meeting only to be told, this was not an offer and no negotiations would take place. The company has since refused to alter its position.
  • To inform its pay 2023 pay submission, UNISON also surveyed Newport Live staff between November 3 2022 and November 25 2022 about how they were coping in the cost-of-living crisis. Respondents provided anonymous personal testimonies, which were relayed to the company, including:
    • “Our mortgage is manageable, but utilities are increasingly becoming harder to manage. Petrol, which is needed to get to work, and food costs are beginning to cause a struggle.”
    • “I’m cutting back on food items, buying budget brands, keeping the heating off, trying to drive my car less.”
    • “We really have to think carefully before making a purchase of items that we wish to buy and consider if we really need the item. We no longer eat out and instead are using that money to pay our utilities.”
    • “Cancelling subscriptions, rationing gas/electric and shopping for cheaper food options.”
    • “We are already making cuts in anticipation of the utilities rate rise. Cutting back on food and the amount we would normally use our heating.”