Woman at centre of bullying row at Great Western Hospital tells of her ‘living hell’ (From Swindon Advertiser)
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Woman at centre of bullying row at Great Western Hospital tells of her ‘living hell’
“IT HAS been a living hell, an absolute nightmare.”
The assistant manager at the centre of racism, bullying and bribery allegations made by some cleaners at the Great Western Hospital has finally spoken out about her ordeal.
The former assistant manager of the housekeeping department, who has asked to remain anonymous, felt she was hounded out of the job she had held for many years back in February while crisis talks were held between the union GMB and contractors Carillion.
Originally, allegations were made by cleaners that Carillion’s annual leave policy was unfair and did not allow them to make the long journey home to Goa for four weeks at a time.
Since then, further allegations of racial bullying, discrimination and bribery have been made by GMB, the union representing the disgruntled workers, which is not recognised by Carillion.
The allegations, which the assistant manager strongly denies, have left her out of work and suffering with a number of health problems.
She said: “It has been a year of my life – my health has been affected, I can’t sleep, my hair’s falling out, I’ve lost weight, I don’t go out. It has been hell.
“I used to really like my job. I loved working at the hospital, every day was different. We got good results and it was rewarding.
“I got on well with all the workers then, but you never think it is going to end up like this.”
What has made it even more difficult for the assistant manager is that, just months before, the Goan workers who have made the allegations against her had been sending her texts saying ‘Luv you’, lavishing her with presents from their home country, visiting her and her family at home and throwing parties.
She had even attended her own birthday party, which the Goans arranged for her, in traditional Goan dress, and once attended one of their relative’s weddings in Goa, to see for herself what the country was like.
She also secured sponsorship from Carillion to allow the first Goan Festival in Swindon to go ahead.
“They always used to tell me how beautiful Goa was, so I decided to go on holiday there,” she said.
“I have got piles and piles of cards from them – for birthdays, Christmas, get well soon cards – from these very people who are now making all these allegations.
“They used to come to my house all the time and they would always bring me presents from Goa – it got a bit too much and when I said I couldn’t accept it, they would just say ‘it is a gift from the heart, please accept it’.
“What really sticks in my throat is that they have called me racist. I am not a racist – I had a really good relationship with the Goan workers.
“I just think it is evil that they are making up these lies.”
At the end of last year, a preliminary hearing was held at the Bristol Employment Tribunal, but this was postponed until this month to allow for sufficient time to hear submissions from claimants and respondents.
But the assistant manager said if the housekeeping workers are successful, they could end up claiming thousands of pounds.
She said: “Many of these workers are related – some are husband and wife, sister-in-laws, brother-in-laws – and some of them have put in claims of £20,000, so some of these families could be getting £40,000 payouts at the end of this, while I have lost everything – I could lose my house.”
The assistant manager’s lay representative at the pre-hearing review, Sarah Rhodes, said: “The credibility of one of the GMB’s union reps came under scrutiny at the PHR and was found wanting.
“It also came to light at the PHR that some housekeepers alleged that they had faced intimidation and threats by this rep if they didn’t join the union.
“This dispute may have started about the new annual leave policy but amongst things, it has become a personal vendetta against a few members of staff.”