CLEANERS at a pharmaceutical factory say they feel 'worthless' after learning they will not receive a cash bonus like other staff who have continued to work onsite during the coronavirus pandemic.

It is understood that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will pay selected employees an extra £1,500 as a reward for maintaining the production and supply of essential medicines during the crisis.

But around 70 cleaners who work at GSK's Barnard Castle site were upset to learn they would not get the money, and instead received a thank-you postcard offering them an extra holiday.

They are employed by Mitie, which has the facilities management contract for GSK, but understood they would also be rewarded for their essential work ensuring the site is sterile and operational.

One worker said: "We've been working flat-out and on weekends, without the cleaning staff the site couldn't have kept doing its important work.

"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. We feel insulted and worthless.

"It has been handled badly and morale is low.

"Some of the Glaxo staff feel embarrassed about the situation.

"Lots of us have families and have felt worried about going to work then home to them, scared of picking up the virus and taking it back.

"We now feel that hasn't been valued."

A Mitie spokeperson said: "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 firm said additional support for its staff has included full pay rather than statutory sick pay for coronavirus related absences and the wages of furloughed or vulnerable employees required to self-isolate has been topped up to 100 per cent.

Mitie has put pay reviews on hold and most managerial and office-based staff have taken pay cuts to ensure the financial health of the business in the short-term.

A spokesperson for GSK said: “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.”