Northern Ireland

Disruption expected at Belfast leisure centres

Andersonstown
Image caption Unite workers protest outside Andersonstown Leisure Centre

Some employees at 14 leisure centres in Belfast are going on a 24-hour strike over pay, pension and staffing issues

Workers will also adopt a work-to-rule and over-time ban in their dispute with operator Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL).

GLL said 12 of 14 leisure centres are expected to be open across the city, but there may be some disruption.

Falls Leisure Centre in west Belfast and Loughshore Recreation Centre in north Belfast will be closed.

Andersonstown Leisure Centre will open at 13:35 BST.

Unite members voted for strike action in a dispute over a pensions guarantee and over staffing concerns.

Other centres affected include Whiterock, Ballysillan, Avoniel, Belvoir, Shankill, Olympia, the Ozone and Grove Wellbeing.

Davy Edmont, Unite officer for workers at the leisure centres, said 97% of Unite members voted for strike action in a dispute over a pensions guarantee and over staffing concerns.

He said the dispute centred on casual workers' access to pension schemes and the quality of cover and staffing provided at centres.

A spokesperson for GLL said only 13% of the workforce voted for the strike.

However, Mr Edmont of Unite said: "They look at it as a relatively small number, but I would ask them, that being the case, then why is the Andersonstown Leisure Centre shut and not open to the public this morning."

Katrina Morgan, regional manager for Greenwich Leisure Limited, said the company was open to negotiations.

"The table is open and we're willing to discuss all the issues with Unite as we have done all along and indeed get some more clarity on what the exact issues are because we're still not fully sure what they are," she said.

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