Controversial social enterprise Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) has been accused of being contradictory in its approach to coronavirus for library staff in Greenwich and Bromley, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Friday 20 March).

Unite said that GLL had adopted a contradictory policy by closing all the 12 libraries it runs in Greenwich, while keeping eight of the 14 libraries in Bromley open. The other Bromley libraries have closed because of lack of staff to keep them open.

Unite called for GLL to adopt a uniform approach to libraries it runs and close them down during the coronavirus emergency with full pay for staff, as GLL receives cash from the local authorities for employees’ salaries.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “This contradictory approach is appalling and typical of GLL’s bosses. What is the difference for people in the two neighbouring boroughs? 

“This complete lack of coordination is exactly what causes so much worry and concern for the public and staff. If it’s not safe in Greenwich then it’s not safe in Bromley. We are talking about a couple of hundred library workers covering both authorities.

“The company has also advised that those staff in ‘at risk’ groups, who have to isolate or who have to care for a child, must take annual or unpaid leave. 

“Yet GLL receives a management fee from its clients - the councils - which pays for staffing – therefore, this so-called social enterprise loses no money when staff take leave. When staff take unpaid leave, GLL pockets the fee regardless.

“The message is clear - GLL must close its facilities, including leisure centres, with immediate effect and workers must not be made to pay the price, either in health or financial terms, for this appalling health crisis.”

The union said that on 16 March the company issued a letter to staff setting out its precarious financial position - confirming that it had asked its partners to bail them out financially.


For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.

Unite press office is on: 020 3371 2065.


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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.