Belfast Telegraph

Future uncertain for Northern Ireland staff as Carillion contracts put on sale

By John Mulgrew

Carillion's Northern Ireland business is back on the market just a week after the construction giant went into liquidation here, it can be revealed.

PwC is now selling off three separate contracts as part of Project Rome. That includes facilities management contracts in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The majority of Carillion's work here is with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE). It has maintenance contracts for around 40,000 properties here, worth £35m a year.

And there are now concerns over the future of that workforce, amid calls for the NIHE to employ the workers directly.

Following the liquidation of Carillion's Northern Ireland business last week, TUPE regulations no longer apply, meaning staff would not have to be transferred to a new firm if it takes over the Carillion contracts.

It's understood the NIHE will hold a board meeting tomorrow.

Carillion has been also accused of trying to "wriggle out" of its obligations to pensioners while paying out tens of millions in dividends for shareholders and "handsome pay packets" for bosses.

Carillion employs approximately 500 staff here, with around 230 working for the NIHE. Across the UK, around 20,000 employees now face an uncertain future.

It comes as the accountancy watchdog is to open an investigation into accountancy firm KPMG over its audits of collapsed construction giant Carillion.

The Commons Work and Pensions Committee criticised the collapsed outsourcing company after publishing a letter from Robin Ellison, chairman of trustees of Carillion's pension scheme, which gives an account of the firm's pension scheme.

Carillion's liquidation left in its wake a £900m debt pile, a £590m pension deficit reported by the firm, and hundreds of millions of pounds in unfinished public contracts.

Mr Ellison's letter suggests the pension deficit could be even higher at £990m, the committee said.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said yesterday that, following inquiries made since Carilion's profit warning in July, it will open an investigation under the Audit Enforcement Procedure.

Just last week, Carillion's Northern Ireland business entered liquidation after the company's collapse.

The listed firm was granted a temporary lifeline in Northern Ireland, as it's understood the firm has been given a line of credit to continue some of its key operations here.

But subcontractors still face an uncertain future, with potential losses of up to £150,000 in the case of one firm.

Carillion has three major maintenance contracts with NIHE, and also has contracts with the Ministry of Defence and Power NI.

Meanwhile, unions have attacked news that apprentices caught up in the collapse of Carillion will not be paid from later this week.

Skills minister Anne Milton said that affected apprentices would only be paid by the receiver until the end of January.

A written answer to shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said that the Construction Industry Training Board was "utilising their existing employer contracts" and grant incentives to secure employers for apprentices.

Belfast Telegraph

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