Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/717/14494
Exposed: the dirty world of NHS privatisation
A health worker
A second report into 150 GMB members' complaints of bullying and discrimination at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon was published last week. Their employer, Carillion, operates the PFI contract at the hospital and conducted the investigation into the complaints.
In the report, Carillion agrees that there is evidence of bribery in Swindon but they have failed to acknowledge the blatant covering up of the bullying and discrimination.
To add insult to injury, Carillion have refused to meet with the GMB since publishing this report to discuss its findings and to end the culture of bullying. The union is consulting the workers now about what to do next.
At the start of this year the GMB submitted 109 complaints of bullying and discrimination. 90 mainly domestic staff gave evidence, including of managers asking for jewellery in exchange for holiday and shifts that the workers were legally initialled to.
GMB members voted overwhelmingly to strike, which lead to 18 strike days, escalating to three 24-hour strikes in February. There was a three-day strike, a five-day strike and a seven-day strike in March and a march of 300 people in Swindon in support of the striking workers.
In their first investigation, Carillion said they would not uphold any of the 109 grievances filled by their staff. As a result the GMB filed discrimination claims on behalf of its members at the employment tribunal, bringing Semperian, the owners of Carillion into the dispute. Semperian is run from Jersey to allow investors to avoid paying tax on dividend income from running NHS hospitals.
Carillion is better known as a construction company. Dave Smith, who exposed blacklisting by Carillion, heard about the dispute and the involvement of Liz Keates, the Carillion HR director involved in the scandal.
He came forward to the GMB and said that Ms Keates had previously managed Carillion's relationship with the Consulting Association which was responsible for blacklisting 3,200 construction workers and refusing them employment because of their involvement within trade unions.
The GMB have also had to call for an investigation into another company, Sky Blue Solutions, who provided agency workers during the strikes. This is completely illegal and carries a fine of £5,000 per worker per day. Demonstrations were held in Swindon and Bath where Sky Blue solutions are based.
Disgracefully Unison, the health union which is recognised by Carillion and has members at Great Western Hospital has not only refused to join the action in defence of their own members but have instructed their members regionally not to offer official support to the dispute, accusing the GMB of "pinching" their members.
It is a credit to the Unison members who have defied these instructions and continue to offer support. Unison banners were seen on the demonstration in support of the striking workers.
Semperian is worth an estimated £3.7 billion and maintains and runs schools, universities, prisons, hospitals, roads, train lines and much else. Every day the Tory government thinks of new ways to let private companies run our lives, yet this is the reality of privatisation. The Carillion workers are saying no. We should join them and fight against the Tories, privatisation and bullying bosses.
In The Socialist 9 May 2012:
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