Yoga, pilates and aerobics instructors in Colchester to strike over council's inflexibility on pay

A stock image of a yoga class, as instructors in Colchester prepare to go on strike. Credit: PA

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

Members of Unison employed by Colchester City Council in Essex 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 said the local authority has refused to increase pay for yoga and Pilates coaches of £25 per session since 2015, while aerobics instructors have been earning just £22.50.

The union had previously warned that its members had been "bending over backwards" to provide the best service for the authority.

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’s 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.”

Pam Donnelly, chief executive of Colchester City Council, had previously said the council was "disappointed" at the strike threat, adding: "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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