Yoga teachers are 'bending over backwards' in pay dispute in Essex

Yoga, aerobics and Pilates instructors are voting on whether to strike in a dispute over pay.

Unison said its members at Colchester City Council have not had a pay rise for almost a decade.

The union said the Leisure World instructors are directly employed by the council but their pay is determined differently to the scales used for other staff at the local authority.

Yoga and Pilates rates have remained at £25 a session since 2015, said Unison, adding that aerobics instructors receive £22.50 per session.

Yoga instructor Arlene, who has worked for Colchester Council since 2016, said: "It’s a wonderful community at Leisure World and the people taking classes are so supportive of each other.

“But I don’t even reach the minimum wage for the classes I teach, with all the preparation that goes into them.

“It doesn’t feel like we’re even considered to be working for the council. They’ve never increased the market rate. Everyone else in the building gets a pay rise but we’re forgotten.”

Unison’s Eastern area organiser Emma Aboubaker said: "Instructors are bending over backwards to provide the best service they can for people trying to get fit and healthy in Colchester, but bosses can’t stretch to more than one pay rise a decade.

"Fitness instructors provide a vital service for the city’s public health, but they’re also bringing paying residents into leisure centres. They deserve a proper pay rise."

Leisure World Credit: Google Maps

Pam Donnelly, Chief Executive of Colchester City Council, said: "We are obviously disappointed that instructor employees at our sports facilities are balloting on industrial action. We have provided an updated pay offer to them and hope to reach a resolution that means our wellbeing services to residents are not disrupted in any way.

"Like every resident and business in the UK, the cost-of-living crisis alongside the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, rising energy costs and the current economic climate, is placing an unprecedented pressure on local authority budgets, and Colchester City Council is no exception."

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