STAFF at Sandwell Leisure Trust are to stage a one-day walk out tomorrow (Friday) over changes to the contracts of around 280 employees, UNISON has confirmed.

The union says employees such as swimming instructors, lifeguards and receptionists were told if they didn’t accept the new agreements, which will affect pay, their jobs could be at risk.

UNISON says 'fire and rehire' tactics are being used to force staff at Sandwell Leisure Trust centres, including Haden Hill Leisure Centre and Langley Swimming Centre, to accept unfavourable new terms, including no longer being paid nationally agreed rates, and staff represented by the union voted to take strike action last month.

Ravi Subramanian, UNISON West Midlands regional secretary, said: “Sandwell Leisure Trust must do the right thing and restore employee’s terms and conditions, including pay, in-line with national agreements."

Tony Barnsley, UNISON branch secretary for Sandwell, said: “At a time when a £73m is being ploughed into the new aquatic centre being built in the borough, there can be no justification for workers’ terms and conditions to be cut.

“Staff running Sandwell’s leisure centres during these difficult times shouldn’t be subjected to such treatment when the trust has millions in the bank.”

Sandwell’s Labour MP John Spellar said: “Even Boris Johnson has called fire and rehire tactics unacceptable, although he hasn’t done anything about it.

"So, everyone in Sandwell must be concerned at moves to do this at Sandwell Leisure Trust.

“We need to support the employees taking action to defend national agreements and terms and conditions. Sandwell Council need to intervene before this situation worsens.”

Sandwell Leisure Trust said said it had received notification of a day of industrial action set for Friday April 30 and a spokesman said in a statement: "Not all trade unions or their members have agreed to taking part in this industrial action.

"We have been informed that those that have voted to participate only represent 16 per cent of the total workforce.

"This may affect some service delivery throughout the day which includes access to gyms, activity areas, swimming and or swimming lessons.

"SLT is committed to safeguarding the future employment of our staff and ensuring the long term sustainability of the services it manages in Sandwell. "Around 58 per cent of our workforce live in Sandwell and we are committed to remaining a good sustainable local employer for local people delivering local services.

"We will continue to work hard to deliver safe, award winning services for our customers to enjoy whilst preventing SLT becoming another casualty as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic that has affected so many other employers and businesses.

"We will not know until the day what services may be affected. We are doing everything possible to avoid any disruption and or cancellations to activities."

The trust has promised credits will be issued if swimming lessons are cancelled.

If there are changes to services these will be detailed on the trust's website

People are urged to check this before planning to attend any Sandwell leisure centre on Friday, or call 0300 012 0121.