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Baths closure leaves lifeguard high and dry

PUBLISHED: 15:49 16 February 2007 | UPDATED: 14:27 07 September 2010

A LIFEGUARD says she was forced out of the job she loved when Kentish Town Baths closed suddenly last week because she is foreign. Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), which runs Camden Council's sport centres, told Nadia Filipkova she would have

Marc Mullen

A LIFEGUARD says she was forced out of the job she loved when Kentish Town Baths closed suddenly last week because she is foreign.

Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), which runs Camden Council's sport centres, told Nadia Filipkova she would have to work at Church Farm swimming pool, near Oakleigh Park in Barnet, or leave the company.

The 27-year-old, who lives in Mornington Crescent, does not have a car and has a phobia of the underground. She says travel to the new post would add more than two hours to her working day.

Ms Filipkova (pictured), a full-time contracted employee, said: "If I don't have a car it is a huge hassle to get there.

"They have treated me like a dog. I feel like they are trying to force me out. Others could choose where they wanted to go and were given jobs at Oasis or Swiss Cottage, but not me.

"I definitely feel that it is because I am a woman and because I am Slovakian."

A second Slovakian employee was told he had to work at the Finchley Lido Leisure Centre and accepted the position.

Camden Council was due to close the grade II-listed Victorian baths on Prince of Wales Road next week, for a £22.7million three-year refurbishment.

But after storms led to a glass panel falling into one of the pools, the baths were immediately shut.

Before the announcement in January, Ms Filipkova had been interviewed for promotion to a more senior job at the Oasis leisure centre in Covent Garden.

When she was told she had to go to Barnet she felt sick with stress and told her manager she had to go home.

Ms Filipkova said: "He wouldn't let me go, so I went home. He then accused me of walking out on duty. I even have witnesses to the conversation where I told him I wasn't feeling well. How can I be responsible in my duties as a lifeguard when I am feeling stressed?"

Ms Filipkova has written to councillor Flick Rea and has sought legal advice to pursue a claim for constructive dismissal.

A GLL spokesman said: "Unfortunately, there are no vacancies for recreation assistants available in Camden so all six recreation assistants from Kentish Town have been offered positions in Barnet. Ms Filipkova has also been offered positions in Hackney.

"GLL has a long-standing anti racist policy and we will not tolerate any forms of racism or other discriminatory behaviour.

"Ms Filipkova did attend an interview for a more senior position at Oasis leisure centre and GLL will discuss this with her on her return.

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