The OUH stewards team would like to say a very big THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to our recent survey of staff working for and with Carillion Services. We’ve had a great response and our conversations with you have given us a lot of valuable insight into how you feel about working at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

The general themes emerging from our research indicate that your concerns centre around:

  • a lack of respect from - and poor treatment by – other hospital staff
  • poor pay and job security
  • lack of decent equipment to do the job properly
  • no designated areas in which to take a break.

You are the backbone of the services provided here—without you, the hospital simply could not function efficiently. We think it is about time your importance was acknowledged and we want to make your voices heard, and this is why we have just launched our ‘Respect’ campaign.

Over the coming weeks, we will be keeping up the pressure on Carillion to effect some changes for the better. With your help, we believe that we can really make a difference.Many of our Domestic staff also participated in January’s Equality and Human Rights Commission investigation into recruitment and employment practices in the UK cleaning industry.The results have now been collated and submitted to the EHRC (see the summary) and firmly back up the concerns expressed in our earlier survey.  We will keep you posted on the outcome of this enquiry, but in the meantime we intend to use the evidence gathered to back up our campaign to improve your day to day working environment and ensure that your opinions count.

Summaries of both reports were presented at UNISON’s Annual General Meeting on 25 January. They were very well received by UNISON’s Assistant General Secretary, Roger McKenzie, who spoke at the meeting and pledged his support for JRH Ancillary staff.  He spent some time chatting with Carillion workers and is keen to visit the hospital shortly to meet more of you. If you would like to meet Roger, have any questions for him or any ideas on how, when or where you feel the meeting should take place, then please let us know.

The Background
All those interviewed were cleaners at the John Radcliffe Hospital, employed on either permanent contracts (RoE or Carillion) or through an Agency (Champion Recruitment).

To simplify, RoE and Carillion workers have not been separated as this distinction was not specified in any of the comments given.  We have received reports of people working two years and more for an agency despite repeated requests for permanent contracts. We believe the 3 tier workforce permits Carillion to circumvent the spirit of the EU directive[i] by falling to offer comparable terms and conditions of employment to non NHS staff.

More than 60% of those interviewed did not feel they were being treated fairly. Bullying, harassment, intimidation were recurrent themes, along with problems getting permission to take leave and no pay for sickness absence (agency workers).

This is leading to people reporting for work when they are not fit to do so, which in a hospital could have serious implications (Trust infection control policy states that staff suffering from diahorrea and vomiting must not return within 48 hours of recovery).

There are no longer any designated rest facilities for Carillion staff and training would appear to be poor or non-existent. Several workers who felt they themselves were treated fairly were nonetheless concerned for colleagues who were not.

Racial discrimination is a recurrent concern. Agency workers in particular feel generally that they are being treated as second class citizens and shown no respect; some even commented that they are not treated as human beings. Seen as the ‘lowest of the low’, they feel bullied and disregarded, and threatened and intimidated if they dare to voice any of their concerns.

UNISON is currently running a ‘Respect’ campaign around the hospital and has been pressing for equality of treatment for staff across the three tier workforce and a move to an instigation of permanent contracts after 12 weeks’ employment.

This point has been forcefully reiterated in the January 2014 meeting with Carillion management.
The many Agency staff at the JRH do not have contracts of employment. Some permanent staff expressed concerns over contracts and job descriptions, and payslips are not always easy to understand.