Ambulance staff working for Sussex Patient Transport Service are owed about £45,000 in back pay and for the unsocial hours that they worked. Medical contractor Docklands Medical Services was given a subcontract by the main contractor, Coperforma. However, the company has been unable to settle the dues owed to the ambulance staff, and the GMB union has called a strike ballot of those members working for the contractor.
It has also emerged that Docklands Medical Services was registered as a company in April 2016. The owner of the company is businessman Christopher Arnall, whose other business, Docklands Medical Services (London), went into administration in June after it owed creditors a six-figure amount. The company owed trade creditors close to £40,000 and Revenue and Customs nearly £90,000.
GMB Regional Organiser Gary Palmer stated that this incident was another blow to the union members, who have been treated poorly ever since main medical contractor Coperforma took over the contract.
Coperforma took over the patient transport service from South East Coast Ambulance Service on 1st April. The company then subcontracted part of the work to VM Langfords, which unfortunately went into administration, and the staff were left without jobs and the patients were put at risk. In fact, after VM Langfords went into administration, the bailiffs came and seized five of the ambulances that the company owned.
Thereafter, Coperforma gave the non-emergency ambulance work that VM Langfords was handling to Docklands Medical Services; this happened on 28th June.
The union stated that Coperforma and Docklands Medical Services had promised that they would honour the liabilities, which include pension contributions, outstanding back pay and holiday pay. However, now the ambulance staff have been informed that they will have to wait as long as six months to get paid what they are owed.
The ballot ends on 29th July, and the union is asking members on the next course of action to make sure the medical contractor pays the staff what they are owed.