Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Carillion Boss's Link to Blacklisting may hinder Swindon strike solution

GMB union members at Swindon's Great Western Hospital took part in several 24-hour strikes in February and a 3-day strike at the end of that month. A five day strike began on Thursday 8th, March. The reason for this dispute is bullying, harassment and discrimination against staff - porters and housekeepers involved in cleaning, catering and other support services - by the Carillion management. It doesn't involve the GMB members who work for the NHS Trust or ambulance service at the Great Western Hospital.

THE GMB union has found that the senior Carillion Human Resources manager involved in the Swindon dispute was the Human Resources (HR) manager that for Carillion dealt with the blacklisting organisation that led to the exclusion of thousands of trade unionist from employment.

Dave Smith, a trade unionist who was blacklisted by his employer Carillion, and who has been invited to address a rally in support of the GMB members on strike at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, has advised GMB about the activities of a Carillion HR manager involved with the Swindon dispute in his own blacklisting.

From Dave Smith GMB has learned 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 February 2009 officers from the Information Commissioners Office seized documents which made clear that the Consulting Association was operating a blacklist of trade unionists on behalf of major companies in the construction industry including Carillion. There has since been an admission by Carillion that two of its subsidiaries had ‘penalised’ Dave Smith for being a trade unionist.

GMB members are now on the eleventh day of strike action at Great Western Hospital in Swindon. They will return to work at midnight tonight and a further seven day stoppage will take place from Saturday 17th March to Friday 23rd March.

A St Patrick’s Day march and rally will be held in support of the strikers who at the start of the a further seven days strike. The details are as follows:

Assemble 11:15 am, Saturday 17th March

Salisbury Street,

Swindon SN1 2AN

Rally, 1:00 pm.

Wharf Green,

SN1 5PL.

Speakers invited Dave Smith construction worker blacklisted by Carillion, Jerry Hicks of Unite and Blacklisted workers campaign, Anne Snelgrove, Swindon Labour Party, John Drake Chair SW TUC, plus speakers from GMB.

The GMB last week called on Carillion to establish an Investigation Board to oversee the investigation into the allegations of bullying, harassment and discrimination of GMB members employed on the PFI contract at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon. GMB has suggested that this Board consist of representatives from Carillion, the NHS Hospital Trust, GMB and the PFI owner Semperian. GMB has also raised with Carillion the company’s invitation to the Police to investigate matters connected with the allegations of bullying and harassment. GMB is keen to be involved in this investigation.

Although these members have already taken 11 days of strike action between February 14th and March 12th there has been no movement whatsoever by Carillion to deal with the issues at the heart of the dispute. This is the reason GMB has called for an Investigation Board to be established to get progress.

During the strike days these union members will fan out across the country to visit staff employed by Carillion at other locations and they will also visit staff at locations where Semperian own the PFI contract. During these visits they will seek support and explain the tax dodging involved in these PFI contracts. See Notes to Editors for list of Carillion and Semperian sites.

Paul Maloney, GMB Regional Secretary said, “GMB has been amazed that Carillion has not been able to resolve the allegations of bullying and harassment which was first brought to their attention three months ago. We simply could not understand why dealing with what looks on the surface to be matters that are easily dealt with has taken such an amount of time.

However, now that we find that the senior Carillion HR manager involved in the Swindon dispute was the HR manager that for Carillion dealt with the blacklisting organisation that led to the exclusion of thousands of trade unionist from employment.

Liz Keates managed the relationship for Carillion that led to the blacklisting of trade unionists for trade union activities. This now poses serious questions as to why there has been such foot dragging and duplicity at Swindon."

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