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Unite calls off strike at Croydon leisure centres but says future action 'very, very likely'

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WEDNESDAY'S strike by staff at five leisure centres in Croydon has been called off following the threat of legal action by the company which runs them. Fusion Lifestyle claims union Unite did not follow proper procedure when it balloted 58 of its members for industrial action a fortnight ago. Despite insisting the legal challenge had "no merit", Unite has decided to postpone the strike and re-ballot in the next few weeks. It means Thornton Heath, South Norwood, Purley, New Addington and Waddon leisure centres will open as normal on Wednesday. However, Onay Kasab, Unite's regional officer, warned Fusion, contracted to run the centres for Croydon Council, that strike action was inevitable unless the pay dispute is resolved. Explaining the decision to call off the walkout, Mr Kasab said: "Fusion tried to mount a legal challenge to the ballot. "There are various laws - which we would call anti-trade union - that mean we have to jump through various hoops in order to make the ballot legal. They [Fusion] are claiming we haven't jumped through some of those hoops. "It comes down to knowing exactly where people are working and getting the right lists over. They claim we haven't followed the legislation properly. We don't believe the legal challenge has any merit. "However, we have decided that, rather than become embroiled in a legal argument, we will re-ballot our members taking fully into account the issues raised." The walkout, by lifeguards, fitness instructors and receptionists, surrounds a dispute over pay. A claim that Fusion has failed to pass on increased council funding to staff, some of whom have not had a pay rise in five years, is among the grievances. The postponement of this week's strike comes just a few days after Unite threatened "sustained" industrial action if the walkout failed to prompt an improved pay offer. Mr Kasab said the setback did not mean the dispute with Fusion had been resolved. He said: "It is a pity that, rather than resolve the matter, the employer has chosen to delay the inevitable by making legal threats. "We remain determined to win a fair deal for our members. "That means ensuring that workers at Fusion are paid a decent rate and are no on wildly different terms and conditions. "We will re-ballot in the next weeks. This dispute remains very much live and strike action looks very, very likely." A Fusion Lifestyle spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that the planned strike action at our Croydon centres will no longer be going ahead, and are pleased to reassure customers that there will be no risk of disruption to services."

Unite calls off strike at Croydon leisure centres but says future action 'very, very likely'


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