Unions challenge government over Interserve

Unions have warned of the dangers of private companies receiving public money in the wake of outsourcing giant Interserve’s financial troubles.

The firm, which has contracts in prisons, schools, hospitals and on the roads, has £500m of debts . Its share price has plummeted from £1 last year to 6.5p on Friday.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The financial difficulties that Interserve finds itself in is another dire warning of the dangers of outsourcing public services for private profit. We could be facing Carillion Mark Two.

“The mistakes made before the collapse of Carillon in January 2018 appear in danger of being repeated – if so, this could see the hard pressed taxpayer picking up the tab – yet again.

“We want to know from ministers what contingency plans are in place should Interserve be unable to restructure its debt-laden finances. We would support a temporary ban on Interserve bidding for public sector contracts, while it attempts to resolve its financial problems.

“The moral is that public services should be provided by the public sector, as the record of these outsourcing behemoths has been woeful – it has been proven to be the road to nowhere.

“Unite has called for a public inquiry into the Carillion debacle and today we would ask that such an inquiry should embrace the events leading up to present situation at Interserve.

“Unite has 1,200 members working across Interserve. We will be monitoring developments very closely and be giving our members maximum support in the coming days.

“Another classic example of the government’s unhealthy obsession with outsourcing is the fate of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) firefighters, vital to the UK’s national security.

“In the summer, the MoD firefighters’ contact was awarded to Capita, despite its own financial problems, but then this was challenged by rival outsourcer Serco – and this has yet to be resolved.

“You could not make this up when most reasonable people would agree that such an important service as MoD firefighters should be under government control.”

 

GMB national officer Kevin Brandstatter said: “It should come as no surprise that another public sector contractor is in significant financial trouble. Neither industry, government, local government nor NHS have learned anything from the collapse of Carillion nearly a year ago.

“GMB demands the government step in and gives assurances to our Interserve members. It’s not their fault the government’s outsourcing model is completely broken – and they do not deserve to go into the festive period worrying about their futures.

“GMB calls on the government to bring all contracts in house and use the money saved to improve public services.”

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