A company running catering and shops in hospitals across Lincolnshire has placed staff at risk of redundancy despite making £17.2m in annual profits.
Some staff facing the axe from CH&CO Catering Group have been furloughed since April, receiving 80% of their normal take-home pay, and now face losing their jobs completely despite the firm trading throughout the pandemic.
Many of the affected employees had been directly employed by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust but were outsource to multinational food giant CH&CO catering, whose accounts for the financial year ending 31 December 2018 showed a rise of almost a fifth (19%) in annual turnover, to £286m with profits of £17.2m.
UNISON believes this leaves the company with adequate resources to deal with any short term issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic without having to lay off the staff who helped to generate them.
Before their roles were privatised, staff were promised pay and conditions would be safe and not reduced. However, the company has continually failed to match the pay rises given to staff directly employed in the NHS, meaning they have lost out on thousands of pounds in pay.
UNISON, which represents the staff, is urging the company to think again about the proposed job cuts.
Claims by CH&CO catering of financial hardship are a sham and don’t hold up to scrutiny. The company is using the pandemic as an excuse to carry out cost-saving cuts to maximise profits.
UNISON East Midlands regional organiser Elliot Dean said:
“Year after year, CH&CO Catering group has made millions of pounds in profit on the back of the hard work of its staff.
“Despite being able to carry on its business throughout the pandemic in hospitals throughout the county, it’s now trying to cut staffing costs to maximise profits.
“The company chose to furlough some staff in April but they only paid staff 80% of their normal take-home pay, for which it was able to claim all the money from the government.
“Staff have now been plunged into uncertainty after being taken by surprise by the redundancies.
“But there’ll be a continuing need for these staff to work in the hospitals’ catering outlets and shops, now and into the future. The company must withdraw these damaging proposals immediately and work with UNISON to find a way forward.”