Strike ballot at East Sussex NHS

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GMB members for NHS Property Services Ltd are on the brink of taking industrial action to protect their job roles, pay and patient safety within hospitals providing soft facilities management services for East Sussex Health Care NHS Trust (ESHT). This change will see the vast majority of staff at hospitals such as The Lewes Victoria, Crowborough War Memorial and Uckfield Community Hospitals suffer a pay cut and increased job responsibilities and duties.

Staff that were transferred from ESHT will see their new employer, NHS Property Services, remove established NHS Agenda for change (AfC) job descriptions and pay bandings, protected under TUPE regulations, without meaningful consultation, to be replaced unilaterally with their own inferior pay scales and job evaluations.

The recent GMB consultative ballot from a return of 76.92% saw 95% of members refuse to accept the current transformation proposal put forward by the company.

This result provides GMB southern region with the authority to appoint an independent scrutineer (ERS) to administer a postal industrial action ballot, with a view to consider taking strike action if NHS property service continue to refuse to meaningfully consult and engage with GMB members in the Sussex and press ahead with the implementation of unfair changes.

The ballot on strike action, which opened Friday 18th August for two weeks; will see GMB members potentially take action from as early as mid-September, if the ERS ballot result from members continues to support doing so.

Gary Palmer GMB Organiser said, “Time is purposefully being allowed to slip away by NHS Property Services as they continue to go through a sham predetermined outcome consultation period until the end of August. Many members of staff are still to receive the right consultation packs and job descriptions, and although the company apologies constantly over mix up after mix up, no members of staff GMB has spoken to has any confidence that what they are receiving will be the correct information or even fair in relation to their roles. They feel that NHS Property Services have simply decided to slash and cut their way to profitability at the expense of those least able to absorb such drastic pay reductions, in this case local staff.

“The strong, and not unexpected 95% result, in refusing to accept the unfair implementation of changes from those taking part in the ballot is indicative of the strength and depth of feeling of anger towards NHS Property Services by GMB members and I feel that as paperwork eventual arrives on door steps over the 2nd stage of any proposed changes, the number of dissenting voices will only increase.

“All local GMB representations, on behalf of members and staff, have been met either with filibustering by the company, or a we don’t know the answer and we’ll get back to you response, which of course they never do. So I’m not holding out much hope that they will see sense around not just trying to push on and enforce unilateral detrimental changes to both staff and services, and instead seek to come back from the brink of a full on dispute with staff and GMB through constructive dialogue locally with us, but stranger things have happened I suspect.

“GMB have tabled an offer for a solution to de-escalate matters to NHS Property Services, and it’s an offer which still stands should they wish to explore it. If they fully involve local management, staff and the GMB through a NHS job evaluation process which their contracts support on the new roles, there’s every chance we could find a settlement of the matters arising from the currently looking to enforce through their own unsuitable and un-agreed banding processes upon staff.”

Contact: Gary Palmer on 07552 165 950

Notes to editors:

1) GMB press release 27 July 2017