Government failed to protect workers following Carillion’s collapse as taxpayers pick up the bill, says Unite

Unite, the UK’s largest union, has lambasted the government’s handling of the collapse of Carillion five months after the firm’s implosion. 3,000 workers remain in limbo and vital public sector construction projects remain stalled with no date for work to restart.

Unite made its criticism after a new report by the National Audit Office (NAO), published today (Thursday 7 June), revealed that the taxpayer is expected to have to pay a minimum of £148 million to clean up the mess caused by Carillion’s collapse.

Five months after Carillion’s collapse, 3,000 workers remain employed by the collapsed company. Many of these are working on public sector outsourced contracts, including in the NHS.

Unite members spread throughout the UK, working within the NHS, remain trapped in a situation where they are required to continue to deliver frontline services, with no certainty they will not be made redundant or have their terms and conditions slashed.

As Carillion was forced into liquidation, the normal TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings [Protection of Employment]) regulations do not apply, which means that even if workers are transferred to a new employer there is nothing to stop their terms and conditions being cut.

Since its collapse, Carillion’s two principal hospital projects in Liverpool and Smethwick in the West Midlands have been stalled. This has led to the expected completion dates of these vitally needed new hospitals continually being postponed. It is understood that the condition of the unfinished buildings are deteriorating, which will further increase the overall costs of both projects.

Unite assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail, said: “The National Audit Office report, shines a light on the government’s failure to properly and swiftly deal with Carillion’s collapse with workers and the taxpayer at the sharp end.

“It is simply appalling that five months after Carillion’s collapse thousands of workers delivering public services are looking over their shoulders everyday; fearing what the future holds for them, with no employment protections, even if their jobs are transferred to a new provider.

“When Carillion collapsed government ministers made rash promises that taxpayers would not have to pick up the bill, now those promises have been exposed to have been entirely hollow.

“Unite has repeatedly called for Carillion’s hospital projects to be restarted as early as possible, in order to provide employment and help return confidence to a sector which has taken an absolute battering with huge job losses and business failures due to the company’s collapse.

“The government has failed to heed these calls and the costs of the increasingly delayed projects will rise as a result.

“The penny has still not dropped about this failed business model with the government, it need to end the culture of outsourcing and stop playing Russian roulette with taxpayers money by bringing public sector contracts back in house.”