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Carillion Swindon Demo at Portsmouth

Monday, September 17, 2012

Carillion Windon Hospital Workers Protest At Portsmouth Hospital On Tuesday 18th Sept As Gmb Appeals Guilty Verdicts Over “Shakedowns”

Dispute at Swindon far from resolved but trade unions know that standing up to bullies works which is the message that we want to share with Carillion’s staff at the Portsmouth hospital says GMB

GMB members involved in the long running industrial dispute with Carillion at the Great Western PFI Hospital in Swindon will stage a protest demonstration tomorrow (Tuesday 18th September) outside the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth.

Bullying of Portsmouth staff by Carillion supervisors has been reported as a problem at the Queen Alexandra Hospital. Lee Wiltshire, the Carillion facilities general manager at Queen Alexandra Hospital has been working one day a week at the Swindon Hospital during 2012.

The time table for the protest is as follows:

9.00 am Tuesday

 18th September

leave Swindon County ground car park

11.00 am arrive and give out leaflets

At Queen Alexandra Hospital,

Southwick Hill Road,

Cosham,

Portsmouth,

Hampshire PO6 3LY

11.30 am photocall with banners

12noon leave for return journey to Swindon

The dispute at Carillion Great Western Hospital in Swindon has been underway since December 2011. Since then 150 GMB members employed by Carillion have taken 21 days of strike action over the persistent failure of the Carillion management to deal with evidence of bribery and corruption on the contract which was covered up for some years. See Note 1 below for progress of the dispute up to 17th September 2012.

A Carillion second investigation in April/May 2012 found evidence of shakedowns and corruption by Carillion managers. Rather than deal with this and the managers involved in the cover up Carillion took disciplinary action against 10 GMB members who were the victims of shakedowns and racism on the contract.

This disciplinary process has now produced guilty verdicts on these victims. GMB has lodged appeals against these guilty verdicts. The appeals have yet to take place. Earlier this year after the first Carillion investigation failed to uphold complaints GMB filed almost 100 discrimination claims on behalf of the members at the Employment Tribunal. These members are represented by Bindmans, the UK’s leading human rights legal firm.

Paul Maloney GMB Regional Secretary said, “We are not anywhere near resolving this dispute at Swindon. The company has yet to meet GMB to resolve the dispute. However trade unions know that standing up to bullies works. That is the message that we want to share with Carillion’s staff at the Portsmouth hospital.

We know that Carillion’s own investigation, forced on it by GMB members taking strike action, found that there was evidence of shakedowns and corruptions by their managers in Swindon demanding ‘gold for employment rights’.

Carillion has failed to deal with managers who covered this up for years.  Instead Carillion disciplined the victims of corruption and found them guilty of being shaken down. GMB is appealing this absurd finding.

During the dispute it emerged that Liz Keates, a senior Carillion HR manager, was also involved in blacklisting by Carillion of 224 construction workers across the UK. Carillion used the blacklist register nearly 15,000 times over 4 years underlining that a culture of illegal corporate bullying is endemic, systemic and deep rooted in Carillion and showing that that the way GMB members were victimized at Swindon is not out of character with the company culture.

This is the same Carillion that has public sector contracts valued at more than £15 billion in the UK but seems to think that it does not need to meet the standards of behaviour that are acceptable to the public to be awarded these contracts.

GMB is calling on MPs and councillors to support the demand that blacklisting companies like Carillion should be boycotted from future contracts until they apologise and compensate victims who have fallen foul of their illegal activities and of racist behaviour. Public sector bodies should not do business with companies that fail to deal with illegal corporate bullying and racism.

GMB is campaigning for councils up and down the land to adopt this approach wherever Carillion is seeking to win taxpayer funded contracts, some in cities like Liverpool where it has victimised dozens of local people searching for a job.”

End

Contact: Paul Maloney, GMB Regional Secretary on 07801 343839 or Justin Bowden, GMB National Officer on 07710 631351 or Maria Ludkin GMB national officer for legal and corporate affairs 07956 632 657 or GMB Press Office: Steve Pryle on 07921 289880 or Rose Conroy on 07974 251823.

Notes to Editors

Progress of GMB dispute with Carillion in Swindon from December 2011 up to 17th September 2012

The GMB members work as porters and housekeepers in catering and cleaning and other support roles at the Swindon PFI hospital. The industrial action only involves GMB members who work for Carillion. It does not involve the more than 200 GMB members who work for the NHS Trust or the ambulance service at the Great Western Hospital.

GMB members originally voted overwhelmingly in December 2011 for strike action in protest against bullying and discrimination at the hospital. GMB members demanded that Carillion management act to stop the culture of bullying on the contract and for an end to discrimination in the application of pay and conditions on the contract.

GMB submitted a formal complaint by 109 staff over allegations of bullying in December 2011. During the early months of 2012 90 staff members gave evidence of terrible bullying.

In total GMB members have taken 21 days of strike action so far. They took part in 24 hour stoppages on 14th, 21st and 23rd Feb over bullying, harassment and discrimination by local Carillion management. These were followed by 3 further days of strike action on 27th, 28th and 29th February. There were five days of strike action between 8th & 12th March. A further seven days strike took place between March 17th and March 23rd. There was a march and rally in Swindon on March 17th. The 19th day of strike action took place on May 16th. There was also a public meeting in Swindon on that date. The 20th day of strike action was on June 11th when the strikers visited GMB Congress in Brighton. These members took part in a further one day stoppage on Sunday 15th July. This was the twenty first day of strike action by these workers who took part in the march and rally at Tolpuddle that day.

In June 2012 these GMB members learned that a second investigation by Carillion into complaints by members found evidence of bribery and shakedowns on the contract. Written reports of the second investigation into GMB members’ grievances was circulated to members also admitted to racism, bullying and intimidation.

Carillion did not invite GMB to discuss the outcome of the second investigation. Instead the company issued disciplinary proceedings against 10 GMB members who were the  whistleblowers and the victims of the bullying and ‘gold for employment rights’. These members have now been found guilty of being “shaken down”. GMB is appealing these guilty verdicts.

The manager at the heart of the bullying allegations left Carillion in February 2012. At talks with GMB in February 2012 Carillion said that they had reluctantly accepted the resignation of the manager at the centre of the dispute but that they were not prepared to uphold any of the grievances of the staff. As a consequence GMB filed discrimination claims on behalf of the members at the Employment Tribunal.

In Feb 2012 GMB was given assurances by RMT and ASLEF, whose member’s London Transport pension fund is a major shareholder in Semperian PPP Investment Partners, the owners of the 30 year PFI contract at Great Western Hospital in Swindon, that they would intervene in the dispute with Carillion staff at the hospital. This has since happened.

GMB wrote to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee asking for an investigation into the siphoning off of NHS cash into tax free scams for foreign investors using Channel Islands. This is after it came to light that the holding company of Semperian that owns 35 PFI contracts to run NHS hospitals in the UK, including that in Swindon, is based in Jersey for the express purpose to enable overseas investors to avoid tax on dividend income arising from running these NHS facilities. The ultimate holding company is Jersey registered Semperian PPP Investment Partners Holdings Ltd.  GMB is calling on the chancellor to stop this this tax avoidance.

In March 2012  Dave Smith, a trade unionist who was blacklisted by his employer Carillion  advised GMB about the activities of a Carillion HR manager involved with the Swindon dispute in his own blacklisting. Dave Smith said that a London Employment Tribunal in January was presented with evidence that Liz Keates the Carillion HR Director involved in the dispute at Swindon managed Carillion’s relationship with the Consulting Association. This was the body that was responsible for the ‘blacklisting’ 3,200 construction workers and excluding them from employment because of their trade union activities. In June GMB published a report on blacklisting by Carillion. The GMB report “BLACKLISTING - illegal corporate bullying endemic, systemic and deep-rooted in Carillion and other companies” is on the GMB website at www.gmb.org.uk .  Arising from this report GMB is preparing separate legal action against Carillion for blacklisting. GMB has since given evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee on blacklisting.

GMB wrote to employment agencies including SkyBlue Solutions to make them aware that Regulation 7 of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations 2003 prohibits an employment business (agency) from providing temporary workers, to replace workers who were taking part in an official strike.  An employment business supplying workers in these circumstances, will be committing a criminal offence and the end user/employer/client could be found to be aiding and abetting that offence.

The Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EASI) is the body responsible for enforcing the regulations.

GMB held protest demonstrations on Thursday 22nd March in both Swindon and Bath using a Wild West stagecoach to show that Sky Blue Solutions, a Bath employment agency, was running a ‘coach and horses’ through the law that forbids employment agencies to supply staff during trade disputes and should be punished for breaking the law.

EASI conducted an investigation into the alleged strike breaking by Sky Blue Solutions. Breaches of the regulations result in a fine of £5,000 per worker per day supplied to do the work of the strikers.

GMB also organised a public meeting in the House of Commons on 10th July 2012 with MPs and other invited guests to assess how best to deal with the Carillion culture of corporate bullying and racism

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