Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Carillion Crash follows death of Councillor Quinn

'He hath put down the mighty from [their] seats, and exalted them of low degree' 
(Luke 1:52: King James Bible)

To see readable press cuttings left click on image

GOD KNOWS BEST!  What need be there for anarchist assassins when the Gods are so clearly on the side of the righteous?  When the market so mercilessly murders those who most worship it.

Many blacklisted electricians and other building workers must be feeling chuffed today, as the news breaks of the expected collapse of leading construction company Carillion PLC.  They will feel that there is some justice in the world,

In May 2016, Carillion was one of a range of building firms which issued an apology in the high court in London, admitting that since the late 1960s they had been 'involved in secretly collecting, storing and distributing among themselves information about workers who had, or who were applying for, work in the construction industry'.

At the time this cohort of blacklisters said:   'The simple purpose of this operation was to create a database of information to vet particular workers in the construction industry.'  The firms accepted that 'their secret vetting operation should never have happened.   It caused harm to the employment opportunities of many workers.  The secret nature of the operation meant that those on the database had no way of establishing whether they were included in it, or any chance to challenge the information that was kept and available for dissemination.'

The firms – Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci – told the court that they hoped their apology meant that 'this matter can be treated as a closed chapter'.

The Road to the Blacklist

Carillion was created in 1999 by the famous road surfacing business Tarmac in a demerger.  Today, it employs 19,500 people in the UK alone, and is based in Wolverhampton.

Carillion's major projects have included 'the doughnut' - the iconic circular office building of the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) - completed in 2003.   Alongside new facilities for the Royal Opera House, Carillion completed the Tate Modern in London in 2000.
Its other projects have included the Grand Mosque in Oman, completed in 2001, as well as an expansion to Liverpool FC's Anfield stadium in 2016.

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.

Only today Unite's assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail, will have had these workers in mind when she 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.'
'We underwent a vigorous and lengthy process to ensure that the right contractor (Carillion) was selected for the construction of One St Peter’s Square.
'Experience, reputation and ability to deliver were of paramount importance as we are committed to ensuring that this is a very high quality scheme and that it is completed within the projected time frame.'

The Greater Manchester Pension Fund, formally administered by Tameside Borough Council, represents all 10 local authorities in Greater Manchester, has assets of over £21bn and includes more than 500 employers and over 350,000 members

Quinn has been in-bed with the Carillion blacklisters, both in terms of Tameside Labour Council's long local partnership with what some financial pundits are now calling a 'structurally unstable' company, but also regionally in Greater Manchester, as chair of Greater Manchester Pension Fund [GMPF], in which as recent as last September, he was calling for closer relations with the company.  We don't know how heavily invested the GMPF is in Carillion, especially because sources close to Tameside Council have told Northern Voices that Tameside Council's deals with Carillion were conducted 'behind closed doors' by a tiny clique of councillors and officers.  As I write this other sources are saying that their is talk of engaging another contractor to replace Carillion in Tameside or of bringing estate management services back in-house.
Given what's happening now, it looks like Councillor Quinn picked a convenient time to leave this mortal coil.  At least he escaped the current wrekage of Carillion.
Tameside Trades Union Council anxious about Carillion deal

The scheme 'One St Peter’s Square' Quinn promoted was typical of the office developments that have made Manchester so successful, not to mention so attractive to investors – although Mr Quinn declines to reveal to  Charlie Schouten what the fund’s return on the development was.

'Pension funds like to have a stake when a project is completed, but they prefer not to have a stake when something is still in the ground.  Again, we want to change that,' he says.

For Mr Quinn, according to an interview he did with Construction News last September, it’s about not only helping Greater Manchester to grow, but grow in the right way.
'One of my pleasures of acting as GMPF chairman is using workers’ money to invest in the city they work in,' he says, 'and there will be plenty more investment to come'

Yet what Kieran Quinn ought to have known was the contents of the Farmer Review which was published in October 2016 by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC);  Mark Farmer in this review of the UK Construction Labour Model stated:   'This review adopts a structure of evaluating he construction industry’s current and future state which has a strong medical process analogy'.

Mr. Farmer illustrated the ongoing problems and dangers in the British building trade: 
'The evidence reviewed indicates that the construction industry and its labour model is at a critical crossroads in terms of its long-term health.  Whilst the diagnosis points to a deep-seated market failure, there are certain industry trends and wider societal changes happening now that represent both unprecedented risk and opportunity for the industry and its clients.  If the opportunities are not harnessed, the risks may become overwhelming.  The prognosis for the industry, if action is not taken quickly, is that it will become seriously debilitated.  It is facing challenges that have not been seen before, which create an absolute imperative for change.  Previous calls to arms have not been acted on by the industry or its clients at any real scale and somehow the industry has continued to "muddle through".' **

The snag with Carillion is that its plans were based on continuing growth and its strategy fuel by debt to the banks, But what must not now happen is that the tax payers bail out the banks and the investors.  The Liberal Democrat leader. Vince Cable, has said that we can't have a situation in which the profits are privatised, while losses are nationalised.

*    Kieran Quinn died on Xmas Day.


David Lord said...

As I understand Carillion cant honour its pension commitments to its employees lets hope that most local authority's let Carillion contracted out workers stay within the council pension schemes. And lets also hope that the local authority pension schemes didn't invest in Carillion they must have realised that due to government cut backs that the likes of Carillion would be the first to suffer with its attempt to capture government contracts at any price.

TONY said...

Liz Keates might need another job. How the mighty have fallen Brian. It won't effect manual workers as Carillon don't employ any just use agencies to avoid employers class one National insurance contributions therefore ripping off the tax payers and not investing back in the system good riddance
Regards Tony

N.V. Editor said...

Alan Wainwright writes on his Blog: Oh and that HR manager, Liz Keates. Prolific contributor to the Consulting Association database for many years.

Alan Wainwright said...

Hi Brian

Nice to hear from you. I can't speak for other blacklisted workers, but I hope it gets rescued in some way. Our dispute is not with the 43,000 who are potentially looking at the prospect of their livelihoods, it's with the key Directors and management who instigated and sustained the blacklisting and more so, those who have continued to lie to the city, their shareholder and employees about their actual involvement in the scandal. As you will see from my evidence, I tear their lies apart in my letters to Philip Green and the other non-execs from 2016.

NV Editor said...

Carillion staff doing work for Tameside Council have been told by email to keep coming to work and they will be paid at the end of the month. What happens after this, is anybodies guess. Many of these people were TUPE'd over to Carillion and were former council employees. Kieran Quinn, the recently deceased leader of Tameside Council had a very close relationship with Carillion and never failed to bat on their behalf when it came to securing public contracts. If the 'visionary' was alive today, he'd be left with egg all over his face. The new council offices being built on wellington Road, are also a Carillion project. It's not clear what will happen to the workers here who will be mainly sub-contractors.

Editor NV said...

Breaking News: Yesterday workers building the new council offices in Ashton were denied access to the site by security staff. Richard Howson former CEO of Carillon is still getting paid a £660,000 salary + £28,000 in benefits while workers lose their jobs and sub-contractors don't get paid. In 2011, Labour Cllr David Sweeton said transferring Tameside council workers to Carillon would "Safeguard jobs and services."