Ambulance staff demonstrated outside Newham Hospital in East London yesterday against the imposition of grossly inferior un-negotiated new contracts, and demanding that they be brought in-house as directly employed NHS workers.
The GMB members marched round the hospital to the management offices and demonstrated there before moving back to the main entrance, where they were challenged by hospital security.
But they insisted they had the right to stay, chanting on their megaphone: ‘We work here! Support the NHS! We’re overworked and underpaid. No more bullying, no more harassment!’
In 2017, the old private company ERS, had their contract discontinued and it was handed over to Barts Health Trust, who promised to harmonise it with NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) terms and conditions, but have never done so and have now imposed a new grossly inferior contract on the workers.
This new contract both significantly cuts their pay and imposes rota-based shifts, which change every three weeks, undermining work/life balance.
Krissy O’Hagan, the GMB organiser told News Line yesterday: ‘We’ve been bullied. We must have no more bullying and harassment. They’ve imposed a new rota, latched onto a new AfC contract.
‘We have waited five years for the right terms and conditions. They have attached a nasty rotating rota. 75% of the ACAs opposed this, but they have ignored them.
‘They have pressurised a few individuals to agree, but we have managed to stay with most fighting collectively.
‘The ACAs (ambulance care assistants) are 90% ethnic workers, and the management don’t deal respectfully with us. It’s actually a pay cut. People used to be getting more on AfC.
‘I deal with other trusts, such as North Middlesex and Imperial hospitals, where workers would be bought out of contract in circumstances like this. But not here.
‘On 2nd May, they enforced this new rota, and started sending home those who were refusing it. Some people are so stressed they have gone off sick. They enforced this change on the weekend of the Eid celebration!
‘I was supposed to meet Mark Bagnall and other managers at the big new offices of Barts Health Trust at Canary Wharf. They cancelled it five minutes before the meeting.
‘People have worked here for 18 plus years. In addition, the management are stopping our ACAs doing Sundays and night work and giving a £4million a year contract to a new private company to staff these shifts, called Bear.
‘The excuse management give, is that there is “too much work and not enough staff”. A further rally is planned for next week.’