Belgravia Leisure stands down Sydney workforce without pay

Aquatic and recreation facility management company Belgravia Leisure is reported to have stood down staff at the centres it runs in Sydney without pay as a result of the current NSW Government Coronavirus lockdown.

As reported by Honi Soit, the weekly student newspaper of the University of Sydney, staff were informed of the decision when the lockdown was announced, being directed to apply for the COVID-19 disaster payment, while permanent and part-time staff were told to use their annual leave.

Belgravia Leisure, which operates over 150 sport and recreation facilities across the country, and locations including the City of Sydney’s aquatic and recreation centres, the Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre in Marrickville and the Auburn Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre.

However, many staff aren’t eligible for government support or entitled to annual leave, leaving them without income for the duration of lockdown.

Honi Soit reporter Deaundre Espejo, referred to one worker advising “two weeks without income is a very long time.

“I don’t know how they expect us to survive when we have to pay for rent, food, groceries, mortgages and other expenses.

“That’s assuming that lockdown is only going to last two weeks, which is uncertain since cases aren’t going down.”

Another staff member told Honi Soit that workers employed by Belgravia Leisure – who include migrant workers, international students, and older workers – were already battling insecure hours and “very low pay” before being stood down.

Members of the United Workers Union (UWU) are fighting back against the move, demanding that Belgravia Leisure pay staff for their regular hours during the lockdown period.

In a petition that has gained over 650 signatures, the UWU stated “while it is important that the centres close to ensure the safety of the community, workers should not have to pay for the lockdown.”

Workers have also condemned the Federal Government for failing to provide adequate support.

The Federal Government has resisted calls for it to reintroduce its JobKeeper scheme, which ended back in March and while some workers are able to access a weekly disaster payment of $325 to $500, the UWU says this amount “is not enough to cover basic needs.”

Senior management of Belgravia Leisure are will be meeting with members of the UWU on Monday to discuss workers’ demands.

Belgravia Leisure’s move follows that of the Sydney productions of Hamilton and Come From Away who have stood down cast and crew without pay.

Image: Belgravia Leisure operates the City of Sydney’s Ian Thopre Aquatic Centre. Credit: Belgravia Leisure.

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