By Imran Hussain

I started working at the John Radcliffe in 2004 at the tender age of seventeen on a part-time basis, before completing a degree.  At the end of 2004 Carillion took over the management of portering, domestics and patient catering and retail amongst others.  Since then, I have seen a lot of inappropriate behaviour by all management teams and decided, therefore, to join UNISON after realising how important the function of unions are.  

By 2011 I had finished my degree and undertook training to become a steward for UNISON motivated by the unfair treatment of many of my colleagues - including bullying and other forms of subtle, and less subtle, behaviours.

Suspended

On 13 October 2014 there was a legal NHS national strike for fair pay.  I helped organise this in my capacity as steward.  Three days later, I was targeted and suspended by the senior management team of Carillion as part of their campaign of intimidation.  The suspension was in breach of policy and relied on falsified allegations.

All charges withdrawn

On the 25th November at a meeting with stewards, Carillon national management and national UNISON Officials, senior management dropped their allegations and apologised for their actions.

A happy ending

Firstly I would like to make a big THANK YOU to all my co-workers at the John Radcliffe Hospital who have supported me, the hundreds of you who signed the protest petition against my suspension, the UNISON Health Branch, the Joint Union Committee and the Oxford and District TUC.  Also, much appreciation must be given for the sterling support of Andrew Smith MP.  I must also thank our Labour city councillors for all of their support and kind words.  Also, many thanks to Keep Our NHS public who made the link between low pay, outsourcing and privatisation.

One matter of great concern has been the introduction by Carillion of the 'Carillion employment contract' set at close to the minimum wage and minimum legal benefits. The reason for this, we believe, is to provide the 'contract' as a comparator with agency workers who are protected against unfair treatment under the Agency Workers Regulations. This might be seen as profiteering and abuse of people's lives.

Agency workers, amongst others, are being poorly treated by Carillion, given no facilities (such as rest rooms) and what facilities exist may be under threat because the Facilities General Manager has told the union the rest rooms are not needed as 'We pay them to work!' Our concern is that they pay Carillion and agency staff rock bottom minimum wages with no access to facilities and can bully them easily this way to work.  Its being reported to the union that agency, Carillion contract and Retention of Employment (RoE) workers are being treated like robots, exploited, bullied, victimised and treated as modern slaves wholesale. This three tier workforce also hurts the RoE staff as increasingly overtime is offered to ‘cheaper’ Carillion and Agency staff who don’t get full overtime rates.

One positive piece of news is that Carillion has now recognised that it has to speak to the union about pay - in the past it tried to deny this.