First batch of unpaid wages delivered to patient transport staff

GMB protests in Eastbourne with MP Caroline Ansell (Photo by Jon Rigby)
GMB protests in Eastbourne with MP Caroline Ansell (Photo by Jon Rigby)

The first batch of unpaid wages owed to staff working in Sussex’s patient transport service have been received.

Docklands Medical Services, a sub-contractor for Coperforma, which took over the contract in April, went bust earlier this month leaving its employees out of pocket.

MP Caroline Ansell speaking at GMB protests in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-160922-071651008

MP Caroline Ansell speaking at GMB protests in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-160922-071651008

This week the GMB union confirmed that its members had finally received basic pay for August, due to the intervention of the High Weald Lewes Havens Clinical Commissioning Group, (CCG) who are the lead commissioners for the service.

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell said: “I’m delighted the drivers have been paid by the CCG but I’m concerned it appears Coperforma have not been involved.

“Much credit should go to the GMB union for pressing hard to get this cash to people who have not received wages for two months and have suffered hardship as a consequence. The GMB has looked after its members in the finest traditions of the trade union movement.

“However, this can only be a stop-gap measure and the CCG must quickly get to the bottom of how these drivers are going to be paid each and every month for the valuable work they are doing.

“It needs to meet with Coperforma immediately and find out how this is going to happen and I will be seeking assurances from the CCG that this unacceptable situation will not be repeated.”

Gary Palmer, regional organiser for the GMB, said: “Finally some good news for members who have frankly been appallingly treated by an employer, they have been paid for the month of August.

“Pay which they are lawfully entitled to from their employer has at last arrived, unfortunately not with the help of their employer and Coperforma who provisioned their use, and who also failed to carry out fit and proper due diligence upon them as providers for the PTS service in Sussex.”

But he explained that they would continue to fight for the rest of the pay owed.

A spokesman for Coperforma said: “The management of Coperforma Limited has noted the statement issued by High Weald Lewes Havens CCG that unless the company paid the staff of Docklands Medical Services by Friday 23 September 2016 the commissioners would step in to pay them on 26th September.

“Coperforma has not made any payments because, as the commissioners’ statement confirms, these workers are not and were never employees of Coperforma.”

“We share the commissioners’ sympathy towards those individuals who have not received payment from Docklands and because of the apparent closure of their site in Sussex, we are seeking to assist in helping them by trying to engage with the GMB and by proposing to put Docklands employees in touch with other contractors who are looking for staff.

“Coperforma remains committed to continuing to provide all patients and hospitals in Sussex with the unrivalled patient transport service they are now receiving, and will firmly oppose any action designed to take it away from them.”

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