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Staff could work to rule at GWH
CLEANERS and catering staff at the Great Western Hospital are balloting for industrial action short of strike action against job losses and pay cuts.
The GMB union, which represents about 200 employees working for Carillon at the GWH, said the action, which will see employees either working to rule, go slows, overtime bans or call-out bans, is being taken against job losses and cuts to their hours.
Changes to employees rotas has meant staff are forced to clean the wards and toilets and then serve meals while still wearing the same uniforms, which GMB says is not good for infection control.
Members will be voting on Monday and the results are expected to be announced on Monday, October 28.
GMB says on average employees are being allocated 80 hours a year less and are being told they now have to work 12-hour shifts. About 20 will be made redundant.
GMB organiser Carole Vallelly said: “There will be fewer cleaners per ward, and those cleaners will have fewer hours to maintain the cleaning standards on those wards.
“Members work really hard at the moment to meet the standards of cleanliness and I don’t see how they are going to be able to meet the same targets with fewer hours and fewer staff.”
She said changes to shift patterns would mean the majority of the workforce, who are mainly women, would struggle to balance work and their home life.
“Many of them have caring responsibilities,” added Carole. “They may have taken the job in the first place because it fitted in well with sharing the responsibilities with their partner. It’s going to be very difficult for them to start working 12 hour shifts and that is an awfully long time to be cleaning for.”
A GWH spokesman said: “The quality and safety of patient services is our biggest priority and we set clear housekeeping standards for Carillion to deliver. The consultation is being led by Carillion and is not something the Trust is directly involved with.
“We closely monitor cleaning and hygiene and we know that Carillion take as much pride in our hospital as we do. We’ve been assured by Carillion that as a result of any changes, the same high standards of cleaning will be maintained across all wards and departments.”
A Carillion spokesman said: “Changes to the working patterns of housekeeping and ward hostess staff will shortly be introduced at the GWH following the agreed close of consultation between service provider Carillion and recognised unions. The reorganisation is part of a roll-out of measures to improve cost-efficiency, operating procedures and working standards.
“Carillion managers have consulted fully, collectively and on a one-to-one basis, with over 200 affected staff members and their UNISON and Unite union representatives. Many had requested improvements to what had become irregular and inefficient work patterns. We believe these changes will benefit the majority of staff through increased hours and standardisation of rotas. Seventy per cent will be able to work more hours, while the remainder will work the same number of hours as before. Thirty-four members of staff have volunteered for redundancy “Carillion prides itself on stringent cleaning standards and infection risk control at GWH and we have worked with infection control nurses to ensure that we have rigorous hygiene practices in place. We would never do anything to compromise those standards and full training and support will be given to staff while changes are introduced.
“Carillion would like to thank staff and their recognised unions for their constructive participation in the reorganisation process.”
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