A clash between one of Britain’s biggest unions and a big player in the local authority facilities management scene is on the cards.
While skirmishing may be going on at the fringes, the battle is likely to centre around at least 25 employment tribunals that have been lodged by the union.
The GMB union, one of Britain’s biggest, is taking on Parkwood Leisure, which includes Glendale Grounds Maintenance. Parkwood has offices nationwide.
The claims will centre on staff working in Barking and Dagenham in east London who, the union alleges, had pay increases and holiday pay withheld, and some of them suffered sex discrimination.
GMB regional organiser for east London, Julian Bowden, was hard-hitting in his views on the company and said it had “behaved appallingly. I consider it to be among the worst contractors in local government. It is a throwback to the Victorian era and should not be welcome in the 21st century.
“The company’s ruthless behaviour is not only aimed at its employees but also at the community that entrusted it with the care of the leisure facilities. I will make sure GMB members do not foot the bill for the failing of Parkwood Leisure.”
For Parkwood Leisure, a representative said: “We have worked with the trade unions in the past and we want to work with them in the future.
“They gave us no indication that they were unhappy. The first Parkwood Leisure knew of a complaint was when it received notification from the tribunal that proceedings had been lodged.”
Bowden said he had heard that the London Borough of Barking had threatened to sue Parkwood over compliance with contract terms. However, a representative of the council said: “Yes there was an issue between Parkwood-Glendale regarding obligations at Goresbrook Leisure Centre, but we are now satisfied and there are no plans for action.”
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