Unite calls on government to bring Carillion contracts in-house

Unite is calling on the government to “consider all possible options” including bringing contracts in-house, as doubts continue to grow over the future of Carillion the troubled construction and outsourcing giant.

Carillion employs more than 20,000 workers and there are many more workers reliant on the company’s future in its supply chains. It yesterday announced there was a £600m hole in its pension fund.

Aside from its construction business, the company has a plethora of outsourced public sector contracts in health, education, the prison service and local authorities. It also has contracts in many other industrial sectors.

Despite the government having said that it “has contingency plans,” Unite believes it must go further and make clear that it is considering all options. This should include the possibility of bringing contracts back in-house.

Unite also believes that if the government provides any financial assistance or guarantees loans to Carillion, there must be an assurance that workers in the supply chain are protected. Carillion employs very few construction workers on its new build developments, instead relying on sub-contractors and agency labour.

Unite received assurances from Carillion after the company’s share price plunge last November and was assured there was nothing to “be concerned about”.

Carillion is understood to have debts and a pension deficit of £1.5 billion but only has a stock market value of £100 million. It is possible that the company’s banks will refuse to lend any further money.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail, said: “The government must consider all options while the future of Carillion hangs in the balance, including bringing contracts back in-house.

“If taxpayer’s money is used to fund corporate mismanagement then the government should be looking to ensure that public sector contracts are brought back in-house at the earliest possible opportunity.

“If the government is forced to institute a rescue package they need to also ensure that the supply chain is fully protected as many of these workers lack even the protection of basic employment rights, as they are employed on a bogus self-employed basis, through agencies and via umbrella companies.”

NEW: RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The union’s absolute priority at this stage is our members jobs and their pension rights. The workers caught in the middle of this financial meltdown at Carillion are not responsible for the crisis and they should have protection and guarantees from the Government including an assurance that operations will be directly transferred over to Network Rail with all jobs, pensions and rights safe guarded if Carillion goes bust. That is the very least we would expect.

“RMT has been through a similar situation to this with the collapse of both Metronet on London Underground and Jarvis on the railways. This is the high risk gamble you take with handing infra structure over to speculative private companies and the workers caught in the cross fire must be protected and Ministers must take immmediate responsibility for giving those assurances without any prevarication.”

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