A David and Goliath battle between low-paid hospital staff and outsourcing giant Carillion took a new twist yesterday when an appeal judge gave workers the green light to pursue harassment and race discrimination claims.
It marks the latest chapter in a three-year battle by 51 support staff at the private finance initiative-built Great Western Hospital in Swindon (pictured).
At an employment appeal tribunal Mr Justice Wilkie overturned an earlier ruling that they could not include allegations of harassment, indirect race discrimination and direct race discrimination in their case. It will now return to an employment tribunal.
The workers organised in the GMB union first hit back against Carillion, which has sold its stake in the hospital but still maintains services contracts, in December 2011.
One hundred and nine staff joined to file a formal complaint over allegations of serious bullying by bosses at the infrastructure firm.
They have since mounted 21 days of strike action.
The affair took a sinister twist when allegations surfaced that mainly Goan workers had been forced by majority white managers to hand over gold and cash in return for “favours” such as days off.
GMB national officer Maria Ludkin described the appeal victory as “a great result.”
She explained that the next step was to take bring the discrimination claims to trial.
“We are looking forward to the opportunity to expose Carillion’s scandal at Swindon,” she said.
GMB is also targeting Carillion separately over the firm’s involvement in the blacklisting of hundreds of construction workers.
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