UK awarded eight contracts to Carillion after profit warning: PM May's spokesman

NI-based workers for construction giant Carillion are holding emergency meetings with unions after it was announced this morning that the firm has entered compulsory liquidation.

Carillion first ran into difficulty after losing significant sums on big contracts and running up huge debts.

Green said that the United Kingdom government would provide funds to keep the company's public services operational, including school lunches and prison management. The government will fund existing public services contracts.

The firm is involved in many public infrastructure projects - from transport and health to education and defence - and provides other vital public services such as cleaning and catering in NHS hospitals, the provision of school dinners in almost 900 schools and prison maintenance.

Carillion employs more than 43,000 people worldwide with 20,000 in just the UK.

The company is in "liquidation" which means all the different bits of business that it is involved with could be bought and taken over by other companies. Pensions Regulator Executive Director Nicola Parish said it was too soon to tell what would happen to Carillion's pensions, but another spokesperson said the pensions were protected under the Pension Protection Scheme.

"The fact such a massive government contractor like Carillion has been allowed to go into administration shows the complete failure of a system that has put our public services in the grip of shady profit making contractors", said Rebecca Long-Bailey, a Labour MP and business critic.

Officials have now said it will take "a few months" to find a new contractor to complete the remainder of work.

The Government, pension authorities and stakeholders also met on Friday in an attempt to thrash out a rescue package, with talks spilling over into the weekend.

David Lidington, the top minister at the United Kingdom government's Cabinet Office, said in a written statement that his priority was to keep essential public services running.

He said there needed to be a change of "mindset" at companies that do a lot of work for the taxpayer.

He said: "We understand some members of the public will be concerned by recent news reports".

"Ironically, Whitehall tends to do contracts with companies that it always does contracts with, because that's the safe thing to do - that's the perception".

In the past, taxpayers have bailed out companies, with the most recent being during the 2009 financial crisis when Lloyds and RBS were helped.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the rail workers' trade union RMT, said: "This is disastrous news for the workforce and disastrous news for transport and public services in Britain". They will head into work today not knowing if their wages, pensions and even their jobs are safe.

  • Wendy Palmer