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Cleaning staff excluded from GSK's £1.5k COVID-19 employee bonus

Published on 26/05/20 at 11:09am
Image credit: Delta News Hub,

UK pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline has pledged to pay a cash bonus of £1,500 to staff continuing to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, acknowledging the increased risk they face for maintaining research and production operations during this dangerous time.

However, cleaners at the company have learned that they will not be eligible for the bonus. A spokesperson for Mitie, the UK-based outsourcing firm responsible for employing the cleaning staff on behalf of GSK, commented on the allegations: "Our colleagues on the frontline are playing a critical role in supporting the UK during this challenging time.

"As a thank you, we have sent cards to all our employees on the GSK contract offering them an extra day’s holiday.”

The company also said it would pay full wages for vulnerable or furloughed staff, and would offer full pay for COVID-19-related absences. But this is the only additional “thank you” the staff will receive for ensuring work environments are safe and sterile in order for work to continue. The Northern Echo reported that this left affected staff felling “insulted and worthless”.

“We've been working flat-out and on weekends, without the cleaning staff the site couldn't have kept doing its important work,” one affected worker told the paper. “Around mid-April we heard everyone, including us, would get this bonus. A supervisor even said we deserve it, and more.

“Then two weeks ago we found out it is only direct Glaxo staff and doesn't apply to us. A lot of people are very upset.”

GSK defended itself, asserting that they are valued and are a cornerstone of its current operations, but eschewed responsibility for the situation, with a spokesperson commenting: “All workers at GSK Barnard Castle continue to play a crucial role in helping to maintain the reliable supply of vital medicines.

"As these workers are employed by Mitie, an independent facilities management company, they do not participate in GSK employee recognition schemes, but rather have the opportunity to benefit from recognition awards made by their employer, Mitie.

"We give regular feedback to Mitie to ensure they’re aware of the tremendous work that the cleaning teams are delivering so they can be recognised in reward/recognition schemes Mitie has in place.”

Matt Fellows

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