Strike action at Glasgow's leisure centres moved one step closer as trade union members voted overwhelmingly to move toward a ballot on industrial action. 

Staff at Glasgow Life backed a consultative ballot on whether to vote on further action as a result of claims that changes to working practices have been imposed on workers. 

Members of Unite and UNISON each voted 94 per cent and 87 per cent in favour of the ballot respectively. 

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Both unions have repeatedly highlighted a number of alleged failings by Glasgow Life, including a lack of due diligence towards the welfare of staff, and a failure to consult elected safety representatives on changes to working patterns.

Wendy Dunsmore, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “The lack of engagement by Glasgow Life illustrates an extremely irresponsible attitude towards staff and public safety.

"The overwhelming support to move towards a ballot for industrial action is a reflection of the anger our members feel at how they have been treated."

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The results, released on Wednesday, covers seven Glasgow Life leisure centres - the Emirates Arena, Gorbals, Springburn, Tollcross, Bellahouston, Kelvin Hall, and Scotstoun.

Unite claim imposed changes to the working practices have resulted in inadequate staffing levels to ensure fire safety and staffing of buildings due to increased working hours.

The trade union has now confirmed it has reported Glasgow Life to the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) for a second time on the basis of these health and safety implications to the public.

Union bosses have now called for the return of Glasgow Life to full public control to be considered. 

The Unite representative added: "Work related stress is becoming a serious problem within Glasgow Life. We are now in a situation where there is no oversight or control being exercised by the trustees.

"This has led to the current breakdown in employment relations. Unite believes that there is a strong case for a full review of the status of Glasgow Life and for the return of the body to full local authority control.”

Glasgow Life centres have already been unable to operate as a result of staff shortages, according to the trade unions. 

Changes to staffing which have caused the row include creating two tiers of staff with different start times, despite all staff being on the same contracts and the requirement for staff to be peripatetic. 

This will mean that even staff outside of the named sport centres may be required to change their start times.

UNISON's Glasgow Life convenor, Christopher Robertson, said: “Glasgow Life continues to operate and manage staff out with the safe guidance and conditions enjoyed by other council employees, this has been very evident in this so called charitable status employer’s handling of industrial relations.

"UNISON will resist such an approach. UNISON knows how important these services are to this city so we must protect them and the staff who work so hard to provide them.

"The services provided by Glasgow Life are crucial to the economy of our city, Glasgow City Council are going to have decide now whether the service fee allocated is appropriate considering the economic benefit gained.”

A spokesman for Glasgow Life said: “We have been engaged in discussion and consultation with the Trade Unions over minor changes to morning opening hours at seven Glasgow Sport venues since the beginning of the year. To be clear, these changes have not negatively affected the health or safety of either the public or our staff in these centres and none of our staff have been asked to extend their contracted hours to cover these changes, which are in direct response to feedback from our customers about how we can improve access to Glasgow Club facilities.

“We encouraged staff to raise any individual concerns with their line managers and before any changes were implemented we worked with those staff to resolve their specific issues. We will continue to engage positively with our staff and Trade Unions on any proposals or decisions that would substantially impact Glasgow Sport employees or their workplace.

“Glasgow Life is committed to engaging with its staff and trade unions to deliver the highest levels of staff welfare and morale. Our pay levels, pensions and general terms and conditions are significantly better than equivalents across the leisure industry. However, we also have an obligation to remove barriers to people getting involved in sport and physical activity and deliver a popular, viable and sustainable service which has a long-term future.”