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Union members vote for action
MEMBERS of the GMB union working in housekeeping at the Great Western Hospital have voted in favour of industrial action in dispute over job losses, pay cuts and staff rosters.
GMB has given notice to contractors Carillion following a 98.3 per cent vote in an official ballot for industrial action.
GMB officers and shop stewards will meet to assess the result of the ballot and fix dates for industrial action to commence in this new dispute at the hospital.
The changes will mainly affect housekeeping staff and ward hostesses, though all staff will lose paid breaks. Of the current cleaning workforce of 200, about 20 will be made redundant, but every member of staff will be doing 80 hours less cleaning each year.
GMB members stand to lose on average £650 per year, due to loss of unsocial hours payments, and some staff will lose up to 11 lieu days. The new arrangements introduce 12 hour shifts, with a one-hour unpaid break in the middle.
Carole Vallelly, GMB organiser, said: “GMB members in Carillion are sending a strong message to management with this huge vote of over 98.3 per cent in favour of industrial action at the Great Western Hospital.
“Carillion is trying to force through unworkable changes to hours and shifts, which will mean our members will be losing money that they just cannot afford to lose.
“Many of our, mainly female, members will simply not be able to work the new shifts as they have caring responsibilities, but Carillion refuse to work with us and listen to our members.
“GMB questions whether Carillion can maintain the same standards of cleaning at the hospital with less staff doing less hours.
“Our members will be expected to do the same amount of work in much less time, and with fewer of them.
“There is a real fear that Carillion’s cleaning cuts could cost lives.”
A spokesman for Carillion said the company was disappointed with the ballot, particularly because the company had matched the preferences of the majority of staff within the housekeeping function at GWH.
He added: “Our managers consulted fully with over 200 staff members and their UNISON and Unite union representatives regarding changes to rotas and working practices. These changes will greatly improve the working patterns of staff while delivering the efficiencies and cost savings required by the trust.
“Carillion’s contract with the trust specifies the highest levels of cleanliness and service and we are committed to maintaining identical standards of provision.
“Uninterrupted service for patients and staff remains our absolute priority and we will continue to liaise with staff, recognised unions and the trust to minimise any potential disruption caused by the irresponsible actions of third parties.”
A spokesman for GWH said cleaning standards would be monitored closely at all times.
“We are disappointed by this news. However, we have been assured by Carillion that they are doing everything they can to avoid any impact on the quality of cleaning services,” he said.
“We will continue to closely monitor standards of cleanliness across all wards and departments. We continue to encourage both sides to come to an amicable conclusion and to ensure patient safety is not compromised.
In 2012 there were 21 strike days by workers against bullying and discrimination by Carillion at GWH.
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