Solidarity grows with stood-down pool workers

Stood-down workers are organising for their rights. Photo: Isaac Nellist

Workers at Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre (AKAC) in Marrickville have taken action after being stood down without pay at the beginning of the lockdown.

The workers, who are members of the United Workers’ Union (UWU), held two actions, a speak-out outside the pool on July 8 and an online community rally on July 10.

At the speak-out, workers called for paid pandemic leave for all and held signs that demanded casual workers be “kept afloat”.

All staff at the centre have been stood down without pay. Full time and part-time staff have been told to access their annual leave.

Many of these are young students who do not have savings to fall back on. Many are unable to access the COVID-19 disaster payment because they are already receiving the youth allowance payment, which is not enough to live on in this city.

AKAC is a council-owned pool, but is managed by Belgravia Leisure, which boasts over hundred million dollars in profits. Its CEO Geoff Lord is one of Australia’s richest 200 people.

akac_selfie_solidarity_photo_matt_eagan.jpg

One of many solidarity 'selfies' sent in to support the workers. Photo: Matt Egan

The UWU questioned why companies like Belgravia “are allowed to profit from something built by the community without giving anything back”.

AKAC management met with the workers on July 5, but the UWU described the meeting as a negotiation which was not conducted “in good faith”. Management’s only offer to workers were access to mental health services and “boot camps” during the lockdown.

The online community action drew around 100 people. Organisers have asked for “selfies” to be sent in holding signs demanding paid pandemic leave and supporting AKAC workers. Many donned goggles and swimming caps in solidarity with the pool staff.

The UWU has initiated a petition supporting workers’ call for paid pandemic leave as well as an open letter to City of Sydney Council to reconsider its contracts to Belgravia Leisure.

The AKAC is set to be returned to Inner West Council management in July next year.

[The stood down workers are asking you to show your support by sending solidarity selfies.]