WORKFORCE: Hospital housekeeping staff employed by a private finance initiative partner have staged a series of walkouts over alleged management bullying.

About 135 of the 200 cleaners and meal-serving staff employed by Carillion at Great Western Hospitals Trust in Swindon went on strike for three days last month.

As HSJ went to press no agreement had been reached. Staff were due to walk out for a further three days this week.

GMB union official Andy Newman told HSJ the action followed Carillion’s failure to resolve a group grievance alleging bullying and discrimination to the satisfaction of members.

Staff claim management showed favouritism over awarding holiday over the Christmas period. It is claimed restrictions on taking annual leave during December discriminate against 80 per cent of the workforce who are devout Catholics and whose families originate from Goa in India.

A spokeswoman for the trust said patients had been unaffected but stressed it was an issue for Carillion.

The company built the £135m hospital 10 years ago but sold the debt to Semperian. It now provides facilities management under a subcontracting arrangement with Semperian.

A spokeswoman for Carillion said staff had been brought in on days off and from other nearby sites where Carillion was contracted.

She said Carillion was investigating the collective grievance and “strongly” refuted GMB’s claim the issues raised were not being dealt with.