GMB call for facilities services staff at East Kent hospital to be directly employed to end two tier workforce

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GMB, the union for all NHS Healthcare Professional and Auxiliary staff members, is calling on outsourced facilities staff at East Kent hospital to be brought back in house as Serco claim that it is unable to fund the same pay and conditions for outsourced staff to end a two tier workforce.

GMB began this campaign to return the Portering, Domestic and Catering service to the NHS and called on the Trust Chief Executive Matthew Kershaw to support ending a two tier pay facilities workforce and look to implement a return to in house NHS provisions and cancel Serco’s contract with immediate effect. See notes to editors for copy of the previous press release on the issue

Confirmation from Serco’s contract Director, Lesley Juett, of the company’s U-turn in agreeing to pay NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) pay rises this year, although welcomed, will not see the company fully adhere to agreements to align staff pay and bandings to AfC uplifts.

Gary Palmer GMB Regional NHS Campaigns Organiser said, “Serco have told GMB that the East Kent Hospital University NHS foundation Trust contract was not making enough money to be able to fund any increases for some of the lowest paid staff at the Trust delivering important soft Facilities Management services to the patients at hospitals across the county.

“This is simply not acceptable in light of Serco having seen profits increase along with bonuses and share schemes for those at the top grow year on year. It’s time they do the right thing and completely incorporate and rationalise all AfC terms and conditions and bandings into all employees contracts working at the Trust.

“It’s good to know that Serco have at least partly seen sense in changing their entrenched position to not award NHS uplifts, but they’ve not gone far enough to meet what GMB see is a clear avoidance of earlier promises and guarantees to us and our members.

“Serco must look to settle local issues with GMB and its members to avoid any potential industrial escalation. Otherwise what choice will members have if they won’t meet their commitments and promises and Mr Kershaw won’t seek involvement on behalf of the Trust to pursue a settlement? What is the problem with just doing what is right?

“This contractor’s approach to its staff mirrors others that GMB and Matthew Kershaw have clashed over before in other Trusts in the South East, so why have the lessons not been learnt?

“We will continue to call for Matthew Kershaw to remove Serco from the contract and bring services back in house before the June 2019 review date if the trust are really keen to be seen to promote trust values which see all areas of terms and conditions for staff and the NHS provision they provided within the Trust equally valued in every way.

“Undervaluing of staff in the NHS is unfortunately endemic and part of purposeful underfunding and cut and slash tactics by those trusted to run our National Health Service.

“In particular, with private sector organisations such as Serco, we are seeing staff workloads and stress increase on a monthly basis and members stress levels shooting though the roof as a result.

“Yet from only sharing crumbs from what appears to be a financial feast for the privateers, Serco are avoiding a moral duty that private profiteers seeking to work within the NHS do not increase their profits off the backs of low paid workers for the excellent work they do in keeping our hospitals clean, patient catering and portering on a daily basis. Instead, they should look to honour and adhere to the spirit of all National Health Service terms and conditions for transferred staff, which seems only fair to us!

“If they don’t want to appreciate that as an organisation they are only entrusted to look after these services and staff for a period of time and that AfC terms pay and conditions are set out to do just that, then clearly the message must be that the time has come for Matthew Kershaw to move them on and bring all Facilities Management services back in house and under the NHS umbrella, so NHS patients benefit from their skills directly and in turn those staff benefit from being directly part of the NHS.

“GMB are clear that we will not accept privatisation of the NHS in any form and we will work with all stakeholders to campaign on a local and national level to see all Health services back in house where they belong.”

Contact: Gary Palmer on 07552 165 950

Notes to editors:
1) GMB Press release 22 March 2017