Yoga instructors pose a strike problem for unbending council | Article, News | News

Yoga, Pilates and aerobics instructors employed by Colchester City Council are to take strike action later this month after nearly a decade without a pay rise, UNISON announced today.The fitness instructors will walk out for seven days from Wednesday 28 February until Tuesday 5 March. Although the Leisure World and Northern Gateway Leisure Park trainers are directly employed by the council, they are not part of the same pay scheme as other staff.UNISON says unbending bosses at the local authority have refused to increase pay for yoga and Pilates coaches from £25 per session since 2015, while aerobics instructors have been earning just £22.50.The council initially rejected any rise for yoga and Pilates workers, proposing a mere £2.50 a time extra for aerobics trainers.But following a ballot of the instructors last month, in which 86% of the staff voted for strike action, the council increased its offer to £26 for all three disciplines, plus an element of performance-related pay.The fitness workers say this could still see them earning £4 a session less than instructors at neighbouring Tendring and Chelmsford councils.The instructors say the session rates don’t take account for the preparation and clear-up time involved in each class, as well as that spent with participants before and after each session. And UNISON says the proposed rise is still considerably lower than if the rate had kept pace with inflation.Melinda Harrison, an aerobics instructor at the council for the past nine years, said: “Every other employee has had a pay rise, but we’ve been completely ignored. It’s like we don’t exist. We don’t get reviewed. It’s like the council has forgotten us.“Ten years is a long time to go without a pay rise and the cost of living has shot up. It’s completely unfair to leave us out when everyone else has had a wage increase.”UNISON Eastern area organiser Emma Aboubaker said: “Fitness instructors aren’t immune to the rising bills and prices. They’ve been left with no option but to strike.“It’s now crunch time for the council. Bosses there need to get a jog on if they want to avoid strikes.”

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