UNISON members from next April will be deprived of the opportunity to relax at lunchtime or meet friends or colleagues in the friendly atmosphere of the Town Hall Social Club. LBWF in its wisdom has decided to refuse the renewal of the club’s lease. This is part of the overarching development plan that includes the relocation of the Registry office (a prime site for redevelopment), the selling off of Juniper House (again a prime site for redevelopment).
Work/life balance is a much touted phrase in modern industrial relations and this seems to fall into the work aspect and does not seem to give much balance. If only lunch was as simple as having somewhere to heat food and be able to have a drink of water, well it is if The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations are to be strictly adhered to, and it seems that the Councillors agree.
Not only will the closure of the Town Hall Social Club leave a gaping hole in what employees can choose to do at lunch time it will deprive around 30 community groups from having a central, easily accessible hub for their functions and meetings. Many of the things that make a community a real community take place in the club: dart teams, cribbage teams and pool teams make up just a small number of the sporting and social events that regularly bring together people of all ages and backgrounds. UNISON will lose the regular meeting place of its retired members section and like so many others will need to find somewhere else to go not to mention a regularly used venue for the numerous leaving do’s that happen on a regular basis!
2 pensioners groups also use the facility, one of which was ousted previously from council premises when they were closed. The group not only use the social club to obtain a hot meal, the club provide’s a place for social gathering’s and to catch up with friends and to allow the groups to play a game of bingo or cards etc.
On the 28Th of April UNISON and the other trade unions hold an annual Workers Memorial Day ceremony to remember all those workers who have died or suffered ill health through their work activities and very often the negligence of their employers. This year 2 local MP’s, a representative of the Bhopal Medical Fund (a charity that is still treating patients 30 years after the chemical disaster at the Dow Corporations works in Bhopal, India) and many others including safety reps had the chance to speak to each other after the ceremony in the Hatters Bar and keep the Health and Safety agenda going.
Next April the scene will probably be very different, a few sandwiches and a drink of water in the corner of a break out area perhaps or traipse off to the local café.
The Waltham Forest Sports and Social Club clock is ticking down and it will be a massive loss to the whole of this borough when or if “the Shack at The Back” closes its doors for the final time.