The sacked Pall Mall contract catering and domestic staff fighting for reinstatement at London's Hillingdon hospital look set to endure one of the longest-running remedy hearings in the UK, says health union Unison.
The remedy hearing was granted after the workers lost an industrial tribunal hearing in February 1997.
But the new proceedings, between 18-20 May, were held up as 19 of the 21 Asian, mostly female, strikers were found to require translators during the individual cross-examinations. Unison representative Godfrey Eastwood said seven had yet to be heard, so the hearing will continue on 8-9 July.
They have been demonstrating since 53 staff were sacked in October 1995 after rejecting wage cuts of up to £40 a week. Many have since accepted a settlement offered by original Pall Mall owner Davis Service Group, which recently admitted that the staff had been unfairly dismissed (Caterer, 30 April, page 11).
Granada Food Services, which bought the Pall Mall health contracts in June 1997, accepts no liability but its personnel director Malcolm Swatton went to the hearings "to ensure the name of Granada was not taken in vain", and to explain that it would be impossible to take on all 21 workers without dismissing existing staff.