A top level probe into where the pension payments of NHS and other public sector workers, employed by Carillion, have ‘disappeared to’ was called for today (Thursday 22 February).
Unite, the country’s largest union, said mystery surrounded the fate of the pensions’ contributions of thousands of workers who were employed on public sector contracts when Carillion collapsed last month.
It is understood that Carillion workers last paid their pension contributions in December, but the money had not been received by the statutory pension schemes, and nor had the employer’s contributions.
It is also unclear exactly when the company last paid contributions into the required schemes for its workforce.
Unite, with 100,000 members in the health service and members in other potentially affected sectors including the prison service, the Ministry of Defence and local government, said that queries about the contributions had been meet with a brick wall by the Insolvency Service and the special managers who have been appointed to deal with Carillion’s liquidation.
Now Unite is calling on Frank Field and Rachel Reeves, the respective chairs of the Work and Pensions, and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) select committees to launch an urgent probe into the final destination of the pension contributions, which could possibly be worth more than a million pounds.
Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “This is a matter of serious concern. Workers make contributions towards their retirement and have every right to expect that those contributions go to the rightful pension schemes.
“We need to know what has happened to these payments, possibly involving more than a million pounds. At present, they appear to have mysteriously disappeared into the financial abyss.
“Money has been taken from workers’ wages for their retirement and that money appears to have disappeared into the ether.
“Efforts by Unite to discover what has happened from the Insolvency Service has hit a brick wall – that’s why we are calling on the two select committees to redouble their efforts to get to the bottom of the financial debacle that was Carillion.
“The financial stewardship of Carillion in its last months was a prime example of out of control, feral capitalism.”
Support for Unite’s stance came from Labour’s shadow minister for labour Laura Pidcock who said at the Westminster Hall debate on Carillion yesterday (Wednesday 21 February): “Worryingly, I read yesterday that Unite the union has discovered that Carillion did not pay into the NHS pension scheme in December 2017, even though deductions were made from employees’ salaries. I should like to know what happened to those pension contributions.”
Notes to editors:
When Carillion won public sector contracts in the NHS, the Prison Service, the Ministry of Defence and local authorities, the company applied for admitted body status and continued to pay contributions into public sector pension schemes including the NHS, Civil Service and local government schemes.
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on: 020 3371 2065 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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.