GMB to ballot transferring facilities staff across four Berkshire Hospitals for possible strike action
‘If members support then Transfer day could also be the day members walk out to protect jobs and pay’ say GMB Southern.
GMB the Union for NHS and Healthcare workers is to ballot transferring facilities staff working for Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust at the King Edward VII, Wokingham, St Marks, and Upton Hospitals to take action to protect them from potential job down gradings and pay cuts as transfer of services and staff to NHS Property Services Ltd happens on October 1st, 2021.
The transfer to the government’s own private services provider NHSPS if unchallenged is likely to bring changes which will mean that TUPE'd staff will be vulnerable to detrimental changes to bandings and therefore pay if the new roles and job evaluations which the new provider wants to adopt are not challenged from day one.
And that’s exactly what GMB the union will be doing on behalf of their members facing uncertainty from their transfer out of the NHS family, when carrying out this balloting of members for possible industrial action to force Property Services to come to the table and consult with staff representatives the GMB union to halt these detrimental changes.
It’s an issue which GMB Southern Region have seen before with NHSPS when in 2017 exactly the same approach by Property Services through a FM Transformation process for a number of local hospitals transferring facilities staff was halted by determined GMB members in Sussex when NHSPS made the decision to remove transferring staff from mapping directly into the proposed national Property Services FM structure.
The consultative ballot which opens on Thursday 2nd September closing one week later on September 9th is the first step towards a formal industrial ballot, which again if supported could see strike action take place early October and even possibly on day one of the transfer itself.
Companies like NHSPS using the NHS logos aren’t fooling anyone and certainly not our members and transferring staff. They are private profiteers through and through and in this case it’s the government and the Secretary of State for Health taking public NHS money out of the system.
The cost for our members isn’t just that they are being forcibly transferred out of their public services role within the NHS, it’s that after doing so NHSPS wants to potentially make them break away after transferring from their NHS terms and conditions, and in this case their job roles and titles.
Both are currently set through National agenda for change job evaluation processes linked directly to their pay bandings, and changes would see NHSPS able in time to erode that direct link away, leaving staff vulnerable to pay cuts and through harmonisation on to the lesser terms and conditions of NHSPS contracts.
Well, GMB are not just going to let that happen, and if members support, then transfer day could also be the day members walk out to protect jobs and pay.’
The similarities between this industrial dispute and the one in 2017 is such in that NHSPS right now are refusing to talk to us, as they did then, ignoring the concerns of transferring staff, as they are now, leaving GMB having to ballot for strike action, as we did then.
We had hoped that the lessons learnt at that time around ignore us at your peril, would have seen a fresh approach now especially with the Chief Executive Martin Steele having had to intercede personally last time to get a resolution, but no.
So, if the ballots are positive for strike action, then it could be that around the transfer date time all four hospitals and Property Services could find themselves affected by a walk out. Not the most auspicious start for a profit driven company like NHSPS but a stand needs to be made and GMB members have the resolve on this matter to make it.
It’s in NHSPS and CEO Martin Steele’s hands. The answer is simple remove all transferring staff from any job role and titles mapping plans and give written assurance that it will remain so and staff and the GMB will suspend the threat of strike action immediately.