Unions calls for government to step in to save Carillion workers

Unions have expressed their concern about the future of Carillion, with the GMB calling for the government to step in and help the stricken company.

One of the government’s biggest contractors, Carillion is struggling under £1.5bn of debt, including a pension shortfall of £587m. The government is meeting Carillion and the Pensions Regulator today (Friday) to discuss the services and construction company’s deficit.

 

GMB national secretary Rehana Azam said: “First and foremost, workers’ jobs must be protected. It’s not right that GMB members working for Carillion should face uncertainty and insecurity through no fault of their own. Handing Carillion bosses a blank cheque bail out is completely unacceptable – company bosses should not be rewarded for failure with public money.

“This is a company with an abysmal track record when it comes to protecting workers. This is yet one more lesson that the failures of privatisation and outsourcing and ministers should be protecting people’s jobs rather than bailing out the company. We need an urgent task force, including employers and trade unions, to rescue this vital work from the inadequate grip of Carillion management.

“We seek transparency about the scale and nature of jobs and contracts which Carillion outsource to other subcontractors to evaluate how the collapse of the company could impact on infrastructure projects, the public sector and the wider economy. Government needs to urgently consider a public sector vehicle for taking on this vital work, just as it has when private rail companies have walked away and failed the taxpayer.”

Meanwhile, Unite called for Carillion not to keep its loyal workforce in the dark about the company’s future.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The Carillion crisis has become a major story but it must not be allowed to go over the heads of its loyal workforce, who are effectively being held hostage by the whims of the market.

“Carillion can’t keep its workforce in the dark any longer it needs to clearly tell them and their union representatives, how they are trying to overcome the current problems, with an honest assessment of what the future holds.”

“The huge pension deficit is a further worry for the Carillion workforce as well as their jobs being potentially on the line, they have also discovered that their pensions, which they have saved for, could be at risk.”

Unite, which has over a 1,000 members at the company, has previously urged the government to “consider all options” if Carillion requires state assistance to survive.

This should include considering bringing all of the company’s public sector contracts back in-house and fully protecting workers in the company’s supply chain. Carillion’s construction division directly employs very few construction workers, it instead relies on sub-contracted labour, which results in the vast majority being in precarious forms of employment.

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