Unite, the UK’s largest union, has called for Carillion not to keep its loyal workforce in the dark about the company’s future.
There is increasing concern that the construction and outsourcing giant, which employs 19,500 workers and has thousands more in its supply chain, will not be able to continue in its present form.
The company, which has total debts of £1.5 billion was today (Friday 12 January) meeting government ministers and the pension regulator about its future.
Despite Carillion’s plight having become a major story there is no evidence that the company’s workforce or their trade union representatives are being kept informed of the organisation’s plans and intentions.
The company’s extensive expansion into acquiring outsourced public sector contracts means that as well as construction staff, the workforce also includes hospital cleaners, prison maintenance workers, port staff and workers in the energy and utilities sector.
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.”
Of particular concern is the involvement of the pension regulator, which is a result of over £500 million of Carillion’s debts comprising a pension’s deficit.
Gail Cartmail added: “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.
For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.