GMB has called for the official watchdog to investigate allegations of strike-breaking in the 3-month dispute over racist bullying at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon. It has informed a Bath-based employment agency, SkyBlue Solutions, of a formal …

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GMB has called for the official watchdog to investigate allegations of strike-breaking in the 3-month dispute over racist bullying at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon.

It has informed a Bath-based employment agency, SkyBlue Solutions, of a formal complaint to the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EASI) over allegations that it illegally supplied staff to the hospital during strike days.

Officials believe “a sizeable number” of agency workers have been used to try to undermine the industrial action.

150 GMB members have taken eleven days of strike action at the hospital against their PFI employer Carillion over allegations of bullying, harassment and discrimination.

GMB organiser Carole Vallelly told UnionNews: “It’s all part of Carillion’s wider union-busting policies.

“And of course it’s linked to the bigger picture of trying to break the strength of unions in privatised sections of the National Health Service.”

Officials are also investigating possible links between SkyBlue Solutions and Carillion’s involvement in providing information to the blacklisting company the Consulting Association.

The CA was shut down and fined in 2009 after it had provided information to more than 40 construction companies which prevented thousands of union activists and health and safety reps from working in the industry.

A further seven days of action begin tomorrow (Saturday 17th March).

Regulations governing employment prohibit companies from providing temporary workers to replace employees taking part in an official strike.

Breaches of the regulations can mean a fine of £5,000 per worker per day for such strike-breaking activity.

Carole Vallelly said, “At the very beginning of the dispute GMB wrote to all the employment agencies in Swindon and surrounding areas drawing their attention to laws that prohibit agencies supplying staff to do the work of the people on strike during strike days.

“GMB has carefully monitored who has been doing our members’ job on these days.

“We have written to SkyBlue Solutions in Bath to advise them that we are making a formal complaint to EASI that staff from their agency were working at the hospital on strike days doing the jobs of the strikers.”

The Chair of the TUC’s Women’s Conference sent a public message of support to the strikers during Thursday’s session and the POA delegation to the conference pledged £500 to the strike fund.

You can watch our film report on the dispute here:


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