Unite is warning that sports instructors could be asked to work as cleaners, following privatisation of local government services

Tim Lezard

Unite Don't break britain flagThere is a warning that sports instructors could be asked to work as cleaners in south-east London, as a result of privatisation of local government services.

In what Unite officials describe as a ‘smoke-and-mirrors’ move, Greenwich council is outsourcing services provided by cleaners who now face working on the minimum wage, while its own employees have their pay and conditions protected.

It could mean highly qualified sports instructors would be asked to clean the borough’s 12 libraries and its mobile library.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “What is happening is the council, which proclaims its commitment to the London ‘living wage’, is hiving off these services to its social enterprise partner, which, in turn, plans to bring in its own cleaners on the minimum wage of £6.19.

The council handed control of the borough’s leisure centres and libraries to its social enterprise partner Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) in April 2012.

Union negotiators said the council gave written undertakings that all staff on the contract would be paid the London ‘living wage’ of £8.55-a- hour.

Unite believes GLL no longer intends to use GSPLus – another company set up by the council – to provide its cleaning services. Instead it will bring in its own cleaners and pay them the minimum wage, significantly less than the current rate paid to cleaners.

The current cleaners are being told by GSPLus that their hours are to be cut because GLL does not want them – and GSPlus do not have hours elsewhere to offer them.

Says Onay Kasab: “This shows the reality of handing over public services to a so-called social enterprise.

“By a slight of hand, which GLL hoped nobody would notice, cleaning staff will lose their jobs cleaning libraries and will be replaced by staff on lower pay.

“GLL should be ashamed of itself.  If the elected councillors are also aware of this ‘smoke and mirrors’ manoeuvre, they, too, should share this shame.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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