Swindon Great Western Hospital workers in strike ballot

Workers at Swindon's Great Western Hospital say they are prepared to strike over alleged "bullying" by management.

Union GMB said its members who work as porters, cleaners and domestic staff had complained about how they believe they are treated by employer Carillion.

The majority of GMB members, 147 out of 150, come from Goa in India. One of the issues being raised is Christmas leave.

Carillion said it had not received the allegations to which the GMB referred.

System 'unfair'

GMB, which represents 150 of Carillion's 200-strong workforce, said its members had voted "overwhelmingly" in favour of strike action in the consultative ballot.

Spokesman Andy Newman said: "Staff feel very strongly that they are being harassed and bullied, that the system for booking holidays is unfair, and they are angry that Carillion will not talk to their chosen union, the GMB.

"To get such a strong vote for strike action indicates that feelings are running very high among the staff.

"GMB will now move to a formal strike ballot in the new year."

The union said the system for booking holiday changed about three years ago and staff were no longer able to block book two or three weeks of leave at a time.

This meant staff from Goa, who were mostly Catholic, did not have enough time to return to India for Christmas, the union said.

A spokesperson for Carillion said: "All of our staff provide an essential service to the efficient running of the hospital.

"Our staffing levels need to reflect that we maintain the standard throughout the year - including holiday periods."

Carillion employ about 400 people at the hospital who cover a range of roles including catering, porters, housekeeping, security and operating the switchboard.

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